The Forgiveness Thing

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

It’s not the “err” thing I want to talk about. It’s the “forgive” thing. I understand people’s ire when something has been irretrievably taken from them. Theft comes to mind. Possessions. Virginity. Life. But the act of forgiveness is incredibly powerful. Let me show you what I mean.

How often have you gotten angry about one of these kinds of scenarios?

  • Your secretary forgets to update your calendar and you miss an important meeting.
  • Your customer service representative overpromises a solution to an irate client. Or worse, she gives them a piece of her mind.
  • Your son brings the family car back with a little ding in the front fender.
  • A direct report misses the accuracy mark on some calculations.

Most of these scenarios conjure up a “punishment” response, ostensibly to improve the odds that this doesn’t happen again. After all, we’re perfect and we just want to help the other guy be as perfect, right? But these are all errors only insofar as they are judged by our Knower/Judgers to be so. They are not intrinsically wrong. They are what they are, and they don’t match our considered opinion of what’s right. But that’s our opinion, developed from our K/J rules of life.

Ho’oponopono speaks: I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. Now I challenge you to say that and then follow through with whatever punishment you had in mind.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.” Try sticking Ho’oponopono in there!

“But, Kim,” you say, “How will I ever train the person to do things the way I want them done?” You’re asking to have the whole world accommodate your K/J (and incomplete) picture of the world, aren’t you?

The act of forgiveness is truly universal in its ability to stop the madness. What can we ask forgiveness for?

  • Foisting our K/J rules on others
  • Making snap judgments
  • Reacting rather than reasoning
  • Failing to see data that supports the other argument

The list goes on.

Do you like conflict? Then hold your position. Want peace? Forgive.

Now I’ve really got you riled up. “How can I ever get my way? Everyone will just run over me. I’ve got to stand up for what’s right!

Consider the benefits of forgiveness, like these from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse

Sticking to your K/J as the supreme decision maker about right and wrong appears to have dire consequences in our lives. It’s tied into that challenge we frequently see of always needing to be right.

Back off. You might even be wrong (gasp)!

Just how angry can you get over a missed appointment? A dinged fender? How much damage do you want to do to the relationship with the offending party? Forgiving stops that.

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