Someone you care about has performed a relationship violation, and you choose (yes choose) not to forgive. You then use the lack of forgiveness as a power card. While the relationship may continue, as long as you do not forgive, the relationship cannot heal.

Forgiveness is the ability to accept the ultimate truth that the person was doing the best he/she could do given his/her circumstances even if that action was in hindsight bad or even reprehensible. It is accepting but not condoning. Here is a serious example, “I understand that your cheating on me was what you could do in that moment given all that you are, AND I am really hurt and do not condone that behavior. I see the behavior as bad, and I will accept it.” That perspective leads to true forgiveness. Not everyone agrees with this perspective, but I am a firm believer in its effectiveness at repairing the damage of a rupture in a relationship.  I have seen both forgiving and non-forgiving in relationships for over 35 years in practice. In a forgiving relationship, the relationship moves on (although the relationship changes and can never return to the same level of trust as it once had).

While this is difficult for most to embrace, an ultimate truth of life is that we are always doing the best we can in any given moment in time even when that “best” appears bad from the outside, or we may later label it as bad. However, at any moment in time given who we are, our environment, and the circumstances of our lives, we are doing the best we can. How could it be otherwise? If we could have done better in that moment of time, we would have. Give that some consideration and see what you think.

Embracing this perspective by telling yourself you were doing the best you could at the time reduces distress and improves mental health. By accepting this perspective, you reduce the rumination about what you “should/could” have done and develops self-acceptance that you did the best given your circumstances, thus reducing feeling guilty or bad about what you have done. This allows you not only to forgive others but to also forgive yourself.

Accepting that others are doing the best they can given their circumstances fosters forgiveness which enhances your mental health and helps you to let go of emotions such as anger. Accepting that you are doing the best you can fosters self forgiveness and relieves feeling guilty or bad about yourself.