One of the most difficult concepts to understand is that people—no matter how evil or unethical you think they are—are doing the best they can. Yet, it is factually true, because, just like us, they have been shaped by the environment they were born into and the people and experiences that have come into their lives.

Bullshit you say. How can anyone say this in view of adults who molest children, a serial killer or a murdering dictator?

While bad things are happening all around us, we should not let this influence how we view others. Believing that people are doing the best they know how does not justify evil, it simply helps to put it in context.

It is better to forgive than it is to hate

As I come closer to my sixty-eighth birthday, I’ve had to come to terms with the people who have hurt me in life. My conclusion is that it is better to forgive those who have hurt you than it is to hate them.

Why is this so? While filled with hatred for my enemies, I have lived in the shadows longing for retribution and recompense for what they did. I allowed the dark thoughts of backbiting, discrediting, loathing and discrediting those who hurt me to enter my mind. What I didn’t realize was that I was only hurting myself while in this state of animosity. Life is sour and depressing when one perceives it from the perspective of hatred. Part of overcoming my three years of depression was in developing an ability to forgive those who had aggrieved me.

If accepting that those who have hurt you were doing their best is hard for you to accept, then opt for this other alternative; let go of hate. Hanging on to hatred is not good for you, it sours your perspective on life. It opens the door to the other companions of hatred; fear, revenge, jealousy and violence. Harboring these feelings keeps you in darkness by blocking the light of your true self. You cannot find joy if you hold hatred in your heart. I share this lesson so you may come to terms with the darkness that surrounds your soul.

We are not inside another’s skin

We don’t live inside another’s skin, so we don’t know the traumas and suffering that led them to cope with life in the manner we have witnessed. While we can judge their actions, it is important to see that hurting us may not have been their intent. They may be so wounded and so angry that the slightest stress can make them erupt like a volcano. This may cause them to enter a fight-or-flight mode that causes them to sacrifice everything and everyone to protect themselves.

Forgiveness does not mean you embrace toxicity 

While we can accept another is doing the best they can, this does not imply we should continue to come into their orbit and expect the best. That would be foolish.

Forgiveness does not imply that we stay silent about what was done to us. Those who speak out about their abuse clarify for us what unacceptable behavior is so that we can stop it. Forgiveness is understanding we don’t know what goes on inside another and, therefore, there are things you don’t recognize and understand.

Forgive and move on with certainty the same Higher Power living in you live in them. They too are being challenged to find their path and become their highest self. Rest in the faith everything happens in its own perfect timing and those who hurt us will be challenged to come to terms with the consequences of their actions. This is not up to you. Learn to live in the light of love for all knowing we don’t know the full purpose behind the behavior of others.

As always, wishing you a life filled with joy, love and serenity.

Photo by inbal marilli on Unsplash