Perhaps all of us have had an intimate partner that has said or done things to us which frankly seem unforgivable! Can you remember a circumstance where you spoke hurtful or hateful words, and later recognized that you did not really mean them? The context of your life affected the content of what you said. Maybe you were tired, afraid, angry, stressed, or feeling hurt. In that moment you just had to defend yourself, get some space, work through anxiety, or vent frustration. If someone had understood how you were feeling emotionally, mentally, and/or physically at the time, they could have more easily forgiven you, right? Likewise, if you understood more about the one who offended you, you could more easily forgive them. Picture that person before you right now, and ask them to tell you what the context of their life was like at the time. Listen from their perspective. What you hear may radically heal you.
When you go to the theater and watch a feature length period film you may make some judgments about it. “The leading actor did a decent job, but the cinematography was lousy, and the movie was a let-down.” You believe your perceptions are well informed and accurate. We’re always right about how things look to us, aren’t we? We think our truth is The Truth, and that is where the problem lies. If you watched only sixty seconds of movie trailer instead of the whole feature, you would obviously be less informed. In judging others, we often base our perceptions and reactions on a very short piece of their ‘life movie’—the limited and interpreted part that affected us! So, our judgments may not be as wise as we believe. We don’t know every thought and fear they entertained, every decision they made, and how much they were influenced by various people and environments. There is so much we really don’t know about the movie of another’s life. Perhaps that is why the great beings throughout history have taught that true judgment belongs only to God: because our human mind is not aware of everything we need to be in order to judge properly.
We can come to the place of understanding that, based on the person’s spiritual level of consciousness at the time, how they were feeling, the programming of their DNA and culture, the many choices they previously made, and what they believed to be true about themselves and the world, it is likely they could not have done it any other way than the way they did, at that moment in time. It is possible that if we had lived their life for them, we may have done it just as they did!

Also, most people are simply unaware of just how unloving they have been. Understanding this gives us perspective. Jesus once spoke: “…forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34—LAMSA).” For someone today, this may be translated, “The man has no clue,” or “I see she didn’t have the awareness and capacity to do it another way.”
Back to theatre: If we not only watched an entire movie, but learned about the making of the film, the screenwriter’s background and intent, and the history of the era in which the movie takes place, our perceptions and understanding would expand. We would naturally have more insight and compassion. The same principle applies to understanding another person that offended us! Trying to forgive usually doesn’t work, but gaining an expansive and compassionate understanding opens our heart to natural forgiveness.
When we closely examine some of our own repeated poor choices, mistakes, and verbal offenses, we can be just as gentle with ourselves. We did the best we could, until we progressively learned to do it better. Compassion leads us to acceptance of what was, and what is, without resentment. It is like our heart says, “Of course it happened that way, now I understand.” With this higher wisdom we no longer have to fight the past. We can be at ease with it and become better people because of it. Coming to this realization may not be easy; it may be challenging and require much of us in the way of radical humility. It just happens to be easier than continuing to live with the heavy weights of hurt, anger, and resistance—which keep us stuck and deplete our life energy.
Stay open for Divine grace to soften your heart and heal your emotions. A burden can be removed from the other person and you. Forgiveness always has multiple blessings.
You can read more about Forgiving in my new book, Being Love: 26 Keys to Experiencing Unconditional Love, Chapter 11: Forgive. May you feel lighter by doing so.

Author's Bio: 

Mark Petroff is a Certified Life Coach and Relationships Workshop Facilitator who is passionate about shifting clients' perceptions and strategies worldwide toward breakthrough and the expansion of consciousness. He is the author of Being Love: 26 Keys to Experiencing Unconditional Love, and lives with his wife and son in Orlando, Florida.