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Will Forgiving the Other Person Make Me a Punching Bag?

Q: Dear Todd, someone who has tried to get me to commit suicide multiple times doesn’t deserve me to show them love. If I let it go and forgive, in their mind, wouldn’t that just justify hurting me?

Q: Do we continue being our good selves, smiling, doing good deeds for other people, loving them, even if they treat us like something they have stepped in? After many years of trying, do we reach a point where we call it a day and just walk away?

Q: How to forgive when someone continues to hurt you, emotionally, over and over? It almost feels like I am a punching bag who will keep going back for more, and who keeps allowing abuse. When is it enough?

Q: Does this mentality of forgiving others not cause us to judge our anger as something we must get rid of? And wouldn’t it make me a doormat? Because I do understand that what someone does is not personal, but would that mean I would never speak up if someone does something that is toxic? Like passive-aggressive mean comments, backhanded compliments, or just in general rude comments. They all have a reason for doing it, but would that be a reason to keep silent and not rock the boat by standing up for ourselves?

TODD ANSWERS: I receive a lot of questions that contain a few common misperceptions about spirituality. For example, people will ask, “Does spirituality mean just being passive? Am I supposed to be grateful for abuse and love my abuser?”

Spirituality is not passive or weak. It is not naive or rose-colored glasses. Quite the opposite. It is the skill of seeing reality soberly, exactly as it is, so that we can respond with wise action.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you go live with your abuser. It means that you no longer let your abuser live inside of you.

Love and forgiveness can even look like setting healthy boundaries, because often that is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves and others. We can’t always control others, but we can maintain our inner peace, and sometimes that means doing so from a safe distance.

One way we can learn to love everyone is to think of people like art. I deeply love all art because it comes from a place of wishing to make the world a more beautiful place. However, I can’t hang every piece of art in my house, so I have to be a little choosier. We can love and forgive everyone, but we don’t have to invite them into our home or give away our precious time.

Q: Dear Todd, I feel like forgiving mentally is so easy, but emotionally, that’s where the real work is! What can we do to make it easier even in the other case?
TODD ANSWERS: That is 100% true. But, forgiveness is like a muscle that we can strengthen and nurture. The more we practice it, the more we do loving-kindness meditation, and the easier it gets.

Q: Dear Todd, can love, compassion, and forgiveness always be the answer?
TODD ANSWERS: Sometimes setting healthy boundaries is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves and others. We can’t control everyone, we can only maintain our inner peace and sometimes that means from a safe distance.

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