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Protecting Ourselves Through Forgiveness

Forgiveness is close to the heart of nearly every religion and spiritual tradition in our culture.  And while we all come at that in different ways, I notice one interpretation that i find off base (for me):  that if you’re really “doing forgiveness” the “right” way, then you shouldn’t have any boundaries.

Here’s what i mean:  if a business colleague does or says something I find untrue and hurtful, I’m gonna go through whatever emotions i’m gonna go through (including anger).  But after some point, I’m not gonna want to “hold” that anger.  It takes too much effort and places my attention in the past, which I just won’t tolerate forever.   Forgiveness is my personal “jumping off” point where I basically tell myself a story that explains why the person behaved that way.  In finding understanding and compassion for the other person, I feel some sense of peace and completion.  I decide to do that so that I can move on with things (and emotions) I prefer. And in that way, forgiveness is something I give myself!

But that doesn’t mean I want to have coffee with the person!  Forgiveness doesn’t make me think we can have a terrific relationship.  I create that moment of forgiveness (often many times), focus on things I prefer to focus on, learn what I can from it and keep moving forward.  I don’t believe that forgiveness necessarily means keeping the door open to physically engaging with the person.  Forgiveness with boundaries is still forgiveness.

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