Forgiving someone who has let us down may seem difficult if not impossible.
However, any situation always takes two (or more).
So before you get lost in a haze of anger and indignation over the perceived let-down, it’s a good idea to look within to understand your own role in the issue.
This post is 2 of 5 in the series: Loving Without Expectations.
Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. Corrie ten Boom
Could You Be to Blame—At Least in Part?
No one likes to feel let down, but it is important to look within to see where the source of these feelings might be coming from.
You might think this is an odd thing to do. “The feelings are caused by the person who let me down, of course,” I hear you say.
The difficulty with this is that it turns you into a helpless victim of the actions—or inactions—of others.
People are always unreliable.
They do or don’t do what you expect, and you feel let down and disappointed.
The phrase to “let someone down” implies there was an expectation that was not met.
Let’s imagine a few common situations so we can get a better grasp of what might be going on.
For example, imagine that your romantic partner agreed to meet you for dinner at your favorite restaurant, then canceled at the last minute.
The first thing to consider is whether or not it was unavoidable. Do they have to work late? Did their car break down? In these instances, it is disappointing, of course, but not something the other person should be blamed for.
“If they really cared about me, they would …”
What if you were expecting a fuss for your birthday, such as a romantic dinner for two and a nice gift?
Most people do give birthday gifts to each other, so that is not an unreasonable expectation. But what about the romantic aspect of it? For some people, a candlelit dinner is enough. For others, it should be no expense spared, with champagne, plus a nice gift at the end of the lavish meal.
But most people are not mind readers.
They might think pizza with a bottle of wine and a movie is the perfect way to celebrate your birthday.
They did make an effort, and as the phrase goes, it’s the thought that counts.
But maybe it’s not your idea of the perfect birthday. Did you ever let them know? Or did you just silently and perhaps unconsciously hold the expectation?
Giving Up on Notions of Perfection
People are not perfect.
Nor are birthdays, meals, gifts and so on—except in the eye of the beholder.
If you expect things to be “perfect” all the time, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and resentment.
If on the other hand you cultivate an attitude of gratitude and are happy that the other people in your life are doing their best, you will feel a lot more appreciative and a lot less disappointed.
Feeling less disappointed means that you won’t feel let down so often, and that means you will have a great deal less to forgive.
When Is Forgiveness Required?
If you offer unconditional love without expectations, then forgiveness and deciding whether or not to forgive someone isn’t really a question that will ever arise.
If you are 100% certain that they have deliberately set out to hurt you, then you might need to consider it.
Remember, you are in control of your reactions—not the other person.
Living a life of honesty and integrity will allow you to love without expectations because you understand that everyone makes their own choices for various reasons which often have nothing to do with you.
Be honest when your feelings are hurt, but don’t fly off the handle just because you were expecting one thing and got another.
Read more from this series on Loving Without Expectations.