The importance of forgiveness is often understated after infidelity strikes. YourTango Expert Monica Magnetti rightly points out that "The journey to recovery is multilayered. So many aspects of our personal lives are affected by the aftermath. At this point, the importance of forgiving without forgetting takes center stage, which can bring you to a new level of consciousness. The work of forgiveness has to be done whether you are standing on one side of the fence of infidelity or the other."
Both Magnetti and Rosemary De Faria, another YourTango expert, emphasize the transformative quality of forgiveness. As De Faria says, "Whether we are being forgiven or forgiving someone else, it is a process that offers the chance to look through compassionate eyes at ourselves and our partner."
From Monica Magnetti, here are four essential truths that can help us understand how compassion facilitates forgiveness, toward others and yourself:
1. You are human. Embrace your humanness and remember that your imperfections make you perfect just as you are.
2. Others are also human. Know that everyone makes mistakes, even when we hold them—like often we hold ourselves—to too high standards.
3. Surrender is the key to living life to the fullest. Surrender to the fact that everything you do, or allow others to do to you, offers you learning and the opportunity to advance your spiritual journey.
4. Understand how you may be attracting infidelity into your life. We naturally prefer to blame others for something hurtful that we believe was done to us. And of course, being able to forgive is just plain hard. Even when we are deep in our own spiritual journey and stretched to our capacities, it takes a big person to embrace forgiving. When we take responsibility for our side of what happened, we are transformed from victim to conscious participant in our own life and spiritual journey.
From Rosemary De Faria, here are four tips on understanding and forgiveness:
1. Retribution is not the answer. The topic of forgiveness addresses a practice that for most of us requires conscious intention. When we have been wounded, we can easily go to a place of indignation and righteousness, holding on to grudges and seeking the "satisfaction" of some of form of retribution. In our broken hearts, we feel the answer is to hurt others as we have been hurt, but is this what we should be doing?
2. Understand your partner. In a partnership, when one person goes outside the relationship for what he or she feels is missing, there are huge issues around betrayal which can be devastating and from which many people feel there will be no coming back. This, however, does not have to be the case. People do all sorts of things for many reasons, most of which have to do with their own lack of self-awareness and self-love. These beliefs propel them into medicating themselves through "quick-fix" encounters, only to realize they are looking for some of what they already have.
3. Forgiveness is transformative. When the issue of infidelity does present itself, it can be an opening to a new way of being. Have you ever done something and regretted it and then apologized for it; not just mouthing the words, but truly meaning it from your heart? And after doing so, have you been blessed enough to receive someone's forgiveness? It is in a state of grace that this occurs, creating deep transformation and increased compassion for both parties. Having said this, I am not suggesting denying one's anger and hurt. This is a necessary part of the healing process. But don't let these feelings live "rent-free" inside of you. This is where most of us get stuck.
4. Understand your own history and your role in this. Find out what your part is about. Is this scenario one that repeats itself in your life? If so, it probably warrants looking into deeper. Whatever it is, you can forgive yourself for it. Once this is done, you may find there is still some life in this relationship, particularly if both of you are coming from a place of honesty and integrity. There are lessons to be learned here.
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