How Eliminating Blame And Practicing Forgiveness Serves Your Best Interests

Blaming is easy. Forgiving tends to be relatively difficult. But if you want to become the best version of yourself, it’s essential that you make forgiveness an everyday habit. Often when we blame others, it’s because blaming has become a habit. We are unaware both of what we are doing and the deleterious results. It obscures the light within each of us, which would otherwise allow us to become better humans. Those who succeed in making forgiveness a habit, however, improve their emotional intelligence and free themselves to achieve their goals.

You Need To Forgive In Order To Fulfill Your Potential

Few things hold people back as much as blaming others for one’s shortcomings. This is partly because blame uses vast amounts of energy, squandering it on being judgmental or feelings of dissatisfaction. In many cases, those who have “wronged” us are never brought to “justice.” But that’s just the way it is. The world doesn’t operate in a way that is always fair and equitable. Some would argue that it rarely does. But it’s not your job to be an avenger. It’s better to concern yourself with what works for you and serves your interests. In turn, this will also contribute to the greater good.

Forgiveness does not mean that you release the other person from his or her guilt. But you do free yourself from feelings of resentment that can cloud your perception, judgment and performance. True forgiveness is transformative. If you truly forgive, you will feel relief. It can actually be palpable. This purging of negative emotion allows you to become a “bigger” and better person with greater emotional intelligence.

Also, because holding onto blame means that you are picturing yourself as a victim, you’re setting yourself up as occupying a position of weakness. You come across as petty and venal when you need to project strength, competence and confidence. Playing the victim inhibits all of that. Look beyond imagined or real slights, wrongs and insults so that you not only present as self-assured, but that you actually are such a person.

I also want to touch on the peripheral issue of asking someone to forgive you when it’s you that has had a lapse in your otherwise sterling character. In admitting that you made a mistake, you’re able to learn from it and continue to grow. If you would like someone to forgive you for something, you should ask, but remember that you can’t control what others think or do. If the other person doesn’t forgive you, that’s OK. You’ve done all you can. It’s time to forgive yourself and move on.

Remedies for blaming others involve admitting your own vulnerability. Once you have recognized that you are not impervious to harm or mistake, it should be easier to see and sense the hurt your blame can inflict on others. Admitting your own vulnerability does not make you more susceptible to further hurt — just the opposite is true. Admitting your own vulnerability, to yourself and to others, enhances your humanness. It makes you more approachable and empathetic.

Four Remedies To Cure Blaming Others

It’s easy to say you forgive someone but not mean it. Genuine transformation comes from genuine forgiveness, and not just mouthing the words. Here’s what you need to do to make sure that your words are backed by conviction:

1. Be compassionate. To be compassionate means to be empathetic. In other words, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Even if that doesn’t absolve them of blame, seeing the other person’s humanity should allow you to appreciate the sympathetic pathos that links us all.

2. Don’t assume the worst. Consider whether the hurtful thing was intentional. Sometimes people hurt others accidentally and then become defensive, following up with a justification. The intent, however, was often not to harm. Give them the benefit of the doubt and, until proven otherwise, assume that they acted with benign intent.

3. Name your pain. Taking something abstract and making it tangible will help you confront it. To move on, you need something clear to move on from. Name the specific thing that has hurt you. Perhaps do it out loud (in private, of course) so as to give it greater impact. You can also go further and imagine the benefit of eliminating this particular assignment of blame from your life.

4. Forgive yourself. One of the most important parts of making forgiveness a habit is learning to forgive yourself. If you can’t forgive yourself, it may be impossible to truly forgive another person. Practicing forgiving yourself puts you in control of your personal development and demonstrates your commitment to your personal evolution. Some examples of situations where you might need to practice self-forgiveness: raising your voice at your colleague when you shouldn’t have, forgetting about your wedding anniversary, neglecting to call your parents for an unconscionably long time or becoming estranged from an adult child. Dwelling on these things without forgiving yourself does nothing to further your good emotional balance, and it certainly does not put you in a frame of mind to remedy what you might have created. Initiate self-forgiveness and ask others to forgive you.

In the end, blame keeps you trapped at your current level of development, or it may even set you back. It leads to anger, bitterness and resentfulness. These feelings sap energy and make us feel bad. Forgiveness, on the other hand, enhances integrity, awareness, empathy, kindness and compassion. These are all things that will make you feel good. And they will keep you moving forward on your journey of becoming the absolute best version of yourself. I sincerely hope that your takeaway from this article is that you can appreciate that forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting what’s happened. It means admitting that we are all flawed and realizing that it’s in your long-term best interest to forgive and move on.

This article was originally published in Forbes.

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