Has your husband ever hurt you? Have you ever been in the position where you felt like you should forgive, but you just didn’t know how or if it was even possible to forgive? Go ahead and take a minute to think about it. What does it feel like to not engage in the hurt or disappointment anymore? Maybe you don’t even want to forgive at this point.
Recently I was coaching a client who had been in a long relationship with someone she viewed as immature, even emotionally unavailable. I asked her what it might be like if she just didn’t engage in his drama. I asked her to imagine what it would feel like to not fight and to even forgive him. She said she didn’t really like that approach, because she was so tired of having to be the bigger person. She told me it would feel like she was “letting him off the hook”. I explained to her that when we get angry, resentful or hurt, we are the only ones who can feel it. Of course, we can take action to try to demonstrate that feeling– yell, scream, curse, hit– but still, we are the ones who feel the negative emotion. I told her that when she gets upset and fuming, he couldn’t feel any of it.
Instead of letting her partner off the hook, I encouraged her to let herself off the hook. I encouraged her to decide how she wanted to feel, and let her partner be responsible for experiencing the feelings he was generating within himself.
Do you know what? She tried it. It wasn’t easy for her. It took some practice and self control. She let herself off the hook, and she was able to think rationally about what she wanted out of life and her relationships. She stopped reacting to him and took responsibility for her own emotions. From that place of emotional awareness, she was able to disengage with the drama, think clearly and decide what type of partner SHE wanted to be. She was no longer letting his action or lack of action dictate her mood, her thoughts or her behavior. She made the choice to quit perpetuating the negative emotions within herself, and she totally let herself off the hook. Forgiving didn’t make her a door mat, or allow him to have the upper hand at all. It simply allowed my client to take responsibility for herself. She told me she doesn’t regret it.
You are the only one who can feel your emotions. Negative or positive. If you carry hate for someone, it only hurts you. If you carry love for someone, it is only felt in your heart. What? Yes. When you love someone, you get to feel that inside of you. You get to enjoy all the good vibes from love. Remember, you can take action that will show the other person love, but only you get to feel your emotion. Don’t believe it? Have you ever loved someone and tried to show them, but they didn’t feel loved? That’s because they get to experience their own interpretation of everything in their environment. Trust me, love or hate, only you get to feel it. The other person in the relationship may choose to interpret your actions in a way that makes them feel love too. They may not, but this is beyond your control.
How can you “let yourself off the hook” this week?
Schedule a free 20 minute mini-session with me to discuss how you can let YOURSELF off the hook.