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Forgiveness, Tolerational Love’s Sister

Mini-Love-Lesson #284

Synopsis: How growing tolerational love moves us toward forgiveness, freeing ourselves from self-sabotage and a more powerful, healthier future with others when it is done with heart and head working together.

Toleration involves putting up with Forgiveness involves letting go of. Tolerational love involves both.

A psychological understanding of forgiveness encompasses a mindful decision to reduce or free oneself from anger, vengefulness, obsessiveness and other hurtful and self-harmful, reactive states.  Other definitions of forgiveness include concepts like mercy, understanding (mentally and emotionally), clemency, absolution, forbearance and the like.  Remember, an understanding of tolerance is an ongoing willingness to endure negative feelings.  Tolerance also can be acknowledgment of people, ideas and behaviors different than our own.  Forgiveness and toleration, like sisters, can be found hanging-out together.

When we hold onto emotional pain, resentment, anger or hurt, it can harm us more than the person we felt hurt by.  When we forgive, we release the toxic negative and that helps us heal; this is an act of self-healing.  When we do not take things personally, it frees us up to be more tolerant by avoiding being trapped in a blame and defend cycle.  Forgiveness also means the noxious event does not continue to eat at us.  Forgiveness lessens pain’s grip on us.  It may occasionally resurface but usually not as strongly or as frequently if forgiveness is purposefully reactivated. 

When we ruminate on our resentment, anger, desire for revenge, hatred or other bad feelings, it can mean we are surrendering our power to change.  We also, in a sense, are giving away our power to the person or event that was the trigger of our pain.  True forgiveness helps us to regain our power, freeing us to live in the present, not the past.  We would do well to accept that we can’t change the past.  Forgiveness empowers us to have more mastery over our own emotional life in the present and the future.  That can make forgiveness an act of healthy self-love as well as love of another.

Tolerance can be a path to forgiveness which sets us free to be more understanding, empathetic and compassionate -- which are core components of tolerational love.  

8 Zen Habits To Forgiveness

    • Commit to letting go

    • Contemplate the pros and cons of letting go or holding on to the pain

    • Realize that we can make choices for how we feel and act

    • Focus on being empathetic

    • Take responsibility for our share of the difficulty

    • Focus on the present and solutions for improvement

    • Focus on being peaceful and serene

    • Focus on being compassionate

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting nor does it mean accepting, trusting, condoning or excusing maltreatment or misdeeds.  Not forgiving may be an evolutionary safety mechanism.  Being forgiving does not mean we have to suspend our cautionary suspicion which works to protect us from future ill treatment.  Not forgiving might mean we just are not ready at this time to forgive.  Forgiveness, if appropriate, can be an instrument for letting go and moving on.  Forgiveness along with tolerance often are essential for healthy, love relating.  

Have you heard the saying Betray me once, shame on you. Betray me twice, shame on me?  This speaks to the concept that sometimes there needs to be limits on repeated forgiveness.  The first infidelity may be more forgivable than the second, third or fourth.  Serial abuse can be reinforced and made worse by repeated forgiveness.  We need to be judicious about forgiveness and recognize that sometimes it may encourage unhealthy behavior.  Forgiveness, when appropriate, is a wonderful thing but when poorly applied it can backfire.  

In regard to the offender, forgiveness (if well received) may have a healing effect on them.  Forgiveness also may help them to be motivated to improve.  If they are hampered by guilt, shame or other de-powering feelings, forgiveness may help them to re-empower themselves and be more available for better relating.  

Like in a love-functional family, these sisters (tolerance and forgiveness) are conducive to harmonious, healthy and mutually supportive relating.

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As always, Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question: When you forgive, do you feel you should give your perceived offender another chance, act nice to them or just withdraw interacting with them to protect yourself?  Or what?

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