Max snapped at me. Max is a weeeeeeeee bit stubborn. (He calls it determined being an attribute of both the terrier and hound that he is). When he doesn’t want to do something he DOESN’T do it – even for cookie treats. He also has a sensitive area on his spine. I needed him to go to the other room and he needed to stay where he was. When I tried to pick him up, after many an authoritative “command”, he snapped at me. It was a “LEAVE-ME-ALONE, I-hurt”-snap as no skin contact was made.
It scared me (as it was meant to do). I forgave him for snapping at me. I knew this was about him and his limitations to communicate and not about not loving me. Max cannot exceed his capabilities anymore than you or I can exceed ours.
However, I’m not going to FORGET his “snapping” and will heed his warnings earlier.
I am often asked by clients “How can I ever forgive my family who inflicted horrible harm on me when I can never forget it”? Forgiving and forgetting are two separate things.
We should never forget something/someone who has hurt us. That’s a basic principle of survival. If it’s harmful remember it and avoid it. BUT do NOT let other’s limitations define who we are. (I’m a loving human, not a dog abuser – Max knows as he regularly forgives me my limitations)
Forgiveness is the realization that those who have harmed us are limited by their capabilities. Their harmful actions arise from their capabilities, who they are, not who we are.
- Forgiving is a mental decision which relieves us of emotional pain, anger, hurt etc.
- Not forgiving is based on the belief that others are capable of different/better behavior than how they actually behave.
If I can’t forgive Max then I am assuming he was capable at that time of making a better choice and deliberately chose what I perceive as harmful.
If people truly are capable and choose the harmful response that is at best mean and at worst evil: Most people are not evil; Most are not capable; Most are just immersed in themselves (in ego) and are incapable of taking another’s point of view.
When people’s limited capabilities create painful actions we can forgive them for being limited human beings. We just don’t forget.
What do you think is unforgivable?
And take a look at:
Maureen’s post on Forgiveness quotes.