Forgiveness VS Acceptance: What Works Best for You?

May 14, 2012 at 9:54 am 4 comments

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Growing up I heard a lot about forgiveness, forgive and forgetting, how hard it is, etc. It’s been a topic of many, many church sermons, books and lectures. You’ve heard the terms, forgive and let go is a popular one. So does forgiveness work? How about acceptance? How does it figure in? I’ve wrestled with these questions most of my six decades from trying to forgive myself for things done wrong to coming to grips with my alcoholic Dad.

The power of forgiveness
It’s not what you think. Forgiving someone for a real or perceived infraction doesn’t heal the hurt like you think it would. By forgiving someone you are saying to yourself and others on a subconscious level that you hold “power” over the person who wronged you. By forgiving them you have released them from their obligation to make things right with you. Usually an apology or some sort of restitution is involved. Whatever the circumstances there is a power-exchange. The person committing the offense has forfeited his/her power to you as an offering of penance while you, the harmed, hold the power of granting “forgiveness” to the person. This power exchange is harmful to both parties. It harms he person giving his power up who committed the offense and it harms the one receiving that power and holding it until an apology is obtained. I don’t believe any of this happens on a conscious level. If they are conscious and on purpose then the relationship is really in trouble. These are actions that occur and effect the subconscious mind. Even with an apology, forgiveness and even forgetting, equality is never again reached because of the offense and power-exchange that has happened. Over time this breach may heal but it usually takes a long while.

The ideal
Of course the ideal would be to never offend another. Being in the human condition makes this totally impossible. We commit offenses to one another constantly. Sometimes they are big offenses, sometimes little ones. Sometimes, maybe even most times, we do it inadvertently without malice or contempt, just by human error. Yet an offense is committed, a person hurt and the power struggle of the offense/apology/forgiveness dance begins. The words are spoken, forgiveness granted, yet equality between the individual’s is never again reached. So, as you can see, ideally it’s best to not offend. Try it for a week, no just an day or two and see if you can do it. I would bet you can’t. I know I can’t.

The love of acceptance
Acceptance, whether in the business place or in our personal lives, works on a higher plane. It involves walking in the offender’s shoes for a moment and accepting him as he is in the moment. Doesn’t mean you have to stay around him and endure his abuse just that you understand where he’s coming from and why he is acting that way. By accepting you have totally released him and his act. Social pleasantries may or may not come into play but it doesn’t matter. You hold no power over him or he you. Through acceptance all parties involved keep their power. They can then move on and make choices on whether to continue the relationship based on the acceptance or to release one another from the relationship and move on. Acceptance of another’s behavior does not mean you condone it, promote it, or like it. It just means you accept the person who did the behavior and understand why. In doing so you have no responsibility in his/her actions. You have only shown another human love. You will also find that by practicing acceptance you will be less easily offended.

Believe me I’ve been screwed many times in business deals by so-called friends. I’ve been offended by family and friends and strangers alike. I have offended others as well over the years. Many things I’ve done and said still haunt me. My job now is to accept who I was at the time and let it go. By accepting others and myself at any moment in time I can stop living in the past and embrace the now and not worry what the future holds. Because no matter what happens in life, business or otherwise I’ll know what to do. Practice acceptance.

Accepting the business circumstances you find yourself in is the first step in launching forward. Through acceptance all blame falls away and you can begin to see the path ahead more clearly. Let me help you down that path.

Give me a call.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Randy Attwood  |  May 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Wise words, Michael.

    • 2. Michael Irvin Big Idea Guy  |  May 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks for that elegant yet simple reply. I feel honored.


  • 3. Liz  |  June 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Good article, Michael, and one everyone should read.

    • 4. Michael Irvin Big Idea Guy  |  June 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks first of all for reading my articles and second for the words of encouragement. I appreciate both.


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