Forgiveness is Not Enough

By Greg Baer M.D.

January 13, 2016

We Make Mistakes

Human beings—flawed by nature—make lots of mistakes, and we tend to make them in a way that negatively affects other people, mostly because other people are simply in our vicinity when we’re selfish, angry, thoughtless, stupid, critical, and more. In other words, it’s difficult or impossible to make mistakes without affecting others.

Oddly, although this makes good sense intellectually, we usually take it personally when anyone else’s mistakes affect US. So when people do make mistakes that inconvenience us, we see them as offenses, which we bitterly resent. Every day I talk to people who are offended at the behavior of spouses, children, parents, friends, bosses, and more. We become angry at those who hurt us, and this anger eliminates any chance that we can be genuinely peaceful or happy.

In order to be happy, in other words, we absolutely must let go of our anger toward other people. We must forgive them for their mistakes, including those that affect us negatively.

Forgiveness Explored

Regrettably, there is a certain arrogance to the idea of forgiveness. Before I can forgive you, for example, I first need something to forgive you for. That means that first I need to make a judgment that you did something that requires my forgiveness. I would need to know everything about you, of course, which would give me the capacity to know that you “should” have behaved differently. That judgment is wildly arrogant, because it assumes that I have a RIGHT to judge you in the first place. And then I decide—out of the goodness of my gracious and superior heart—whether I will dispense my grand forgiveness, or withhold it to punish you.

Unconditional Love is Better than Forgiveness

So what would be better than dispensing forgiveness? To simply love and accept you. If I do that:

  • I understand that you “injured” me only because you were empty, lost, confused, or afraid.
  •  I lose my anger toward you completely.
  • I feel compassion for the pain you must be experiencing, because you wouldn’t have treated me badly unless you were in pain.
  • I quit obsessing—or even thinking—about any injuries you might have caused me.
  • I have no thought of requiring an apology of any kind from you.
  • I have faith that with love and guidance, you’ll learn from your mistakes and be less likely to repeat them.

Forgiveness is good, but it’s not quite good enough. If you forgive people in the traditional sense, you’ll find that offenses will stick in you mind and poison your happiness. Instead take the leap to unconditional love, where real peace and happiness are the natural rewards.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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