Cristiano Sequeira

Seventh-day Adventist, husband, author, blogger, Portuguese, ENFJ.

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Self-development tip #15

Graveyards are the wealthiest places on Earth. They are full of unachieved dreams, unfulfilled desires, and undeveloped ideas.

Self-development tip #14

Change is the only constant in our lives. Always be on top of it and use it to your advantage when it comes.

Self-development tip #13

Keep your eyes on reaching your goals and not on the people who’ve reached them before you.

Self-development tip #12

Do not allow the dark nightmares of your past to overshadow your bright dreams for the future.

Self-development tip #11

An easy life won’t make you happy. A fulfilled life will.

Self-development tip #10

The worst thing that can happen to you is not failure it’s giving up.

Relationship advice #4

It’s quite unfair when we judge people by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.

Self-development tip #9

Your character amounts to the sum average of the handful of people you spend the most time with.

Relationship advice #3

You cannot change what other people do to you, but you can change the way that you react to it.

Relationship advice #2

You can influence people through evil manipulation or through benevolent inspiration.

Relationship advice #1

You can influence people through evil manipulation or through benevolent inspiration.

Productivity tip #6

To say yes to some things, you’ll have to have to say no to others. You can’t say yes to everything.

Self-development tip #8

What we imagine in our minds is often more terrifying than reality. ​

Productivity tip #5

A damaged machine will continue to malfunction until you diagnose and fix the problem. The same goes for your habits and routines.

Self-development tip #7

Lying to yourself is like dying from a slow-acting poison. The antivenin is telling yourself the truth.

Self-development tip #6

You cannot fix your character defects unless you first admit that you have character defects.

Self-development tip #5

The easiest way to create chaos in your life is to refuse to act and to take responsibility.

Productivity tip #4

Productivity is less about managing your time better and more about developing self-control.

Self-development tip #4

Don’t allow your possessions to own you. The less attached you are, the more content you’ll be.

How to forgive

“(14) For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (15) But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”–Matthew 6:14, 15.

This passage has always bothered me. It’s categorical: Forgive others, and you shall be forgiven. No forgiveness will be extended to those who don’t forgive. But forgiving those who have wronged us is not easy. When I think about people who hurt me, I want to make them pay, not forgive them! Even if “I’m nice” to those people, or don’t bring up the past anymore, my hidden feelings reveal that in reality, I haven’t forgiven them.

If you have experienced or are experiencing the same, you probably also wonder how exactly we can forgive someone who has wronged us, know for sure that we have forgiven them, and get rid of the negative feelings we harbor for them and the bad memories. For several different reasons, I decided that this topic was going to be my first blog post. I also decided to ask as many people as I can what they thought about this topic. I came up with seven principles on how we can forgive others:

Principle #1: Replace anger with pity

We immediately know that we have not forgiven someone when we remember what they did or said and become angry. Our anger is a symptom, so we deal with it similarly to how we deal with the symptoms of any other disease: we try to medicate them away. This medication usually manifests itself in some sort of distraction that we try to divert our focus to. The effects don’t last very long.

However, there’s a difference between the symptoms of physical diseases and those of mental ones: The former can only be remedied by treating the root cause of the disease. Diseases of the mind, however, whose symptoms manifest as negative feelings and behaviors, require a different kind of treatment. Untruthful thoughts and negative feelings ought to be replaced with truth and positivity. The prime example of this would be the words of Jesus on the cross when He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus pitied His murderers. Many of the people whom I questioned about forgiveness mentioned that they turned their anger into pity. Of course, that’s easier said than done, which is why we need the next principle:

Principle #2: We don’t know what people have gone through

Picture this: One evening, a husband returns home from work. His wife receives him cheerfully. He pays little to no attention to her. During dinner, he says nothing. And before going to sleep, he exchanges no words with his wife. The next day, his wife gives him the cold shoulder. She felt neglected. The husband leaves the house with an expression of sadness on his face. Later that day, the wife received a call from a friend whose husband is a colleague of her own husband. The lady asks her about the disastrous meeting that their husbands had with their boss the previous day. The boss had apparently punished them for a mistake that another colleague had done. The wife suddenly realizes why her husband gave her so little attention the previous evening.

This simple story illustrates a predominant human behavior: we tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. Humans can’t read each other’s minds, yet we think that we can infer a person’s intentions based on their actions. And then we judge the person’s character based on that invisible thing. This (among other things) is what Jesus referred to when he said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).

In almost all cases, it is impossible for us to guess a person’s circumstances, past experience, or thoughts, just by evaluating their appearance, words, or actions. This is what God once said to the prophet Samuel: “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). In other words, when we judge someone, we assume to possess omniscience, an attribute that belongs to God only. That’s not a small matter. God will judge us for that assumption.

This assumption is what so often occurs when we don’t forgive someone who has wronged us. We assume that the person who did or said something hurtful to us is evil. We can’t know that. A more correct assumption to make is that the person who wronged us had an experience that contributed to her behavior. Maybe they’re suffering. But of course, no amount of trauma that someone might have gone through justifies them in hurting others. But it can, and often is, a contributing factor. If we take that possibility into account, it becomes a lot easier for us to turn anger into pity.

Principle #3: The Lord will avenge you

If you’re anything like me personality-wise, then you hate witnessing injustice. Turning anger into pity is rarely enough for me. I want justice to be made and the offender to be punished. Our sentiments in that regard are not unjustified, but they can become a liability. This occurs when we take justice into our own hands. We start a cycle of revenge. But actions have consequences. The proverb “live by the sword, die by the sword” is derived from Matthew 26:52, where Jesus ordered one of His disciples to put his sword away after cutting off an ear of a servant of a high priest just before Jesus was taken to His trial.

Indeed, vengeance begets vengeance, but how then are we to live with an injustice that goes unpunished? Quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, the apostle Paul wrote: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). We can rest assured that God will avenge us in time. Human justice is imperfect at best. God’s judgment, will bring an end to evil for all eternity.

Principle #4: Repay evil with good

The same God that will avenge His suffering children also said: “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11).

The final day of judgment has not yet arrived. We somehow need to live in this unjust world until then. Wouldn’t it be better if those who have wronged us repented and reconciled with us? Wouldn’t it be better if we could completely remove our hatred and replace it with love? Is it even possible?

In the same chapter where the apostle Paul appeals to us to not avenge ourselves, he also stated the following: “(20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20, 21).

By repaying evil with kindness, there are two ways in which you might overcome evil: (1) As you persist in being kind to someone who hurt you, your sentiments toward that person might change from anger to pity. (2) Your example might compel a change of heart in that person. This can open the door to reconciliation and complete forgiveness.

Principle #5: Forgive and forget

But sometimes it’s not possible to reconcile with someone who has wronged us. That person might be far away, unreachable, or they may even have passed away. In such cases, it can feel as though we’re condemned to living with our sad memories of what happened and being unable to find closure. This is why God will wipe our memories of our suffering in this life for good: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Can you imagine living throughout all eternity in paradise while retaining the memory of all the evil that has ever been done to you? It’d be anything but paradise. And this is why God will “wipe away all tears” (that were shed because of hurtful memories). But until we move to the new Earth, we have to live on this old one. Is there a practical way that we can go about wiping our memories right now?

There is! You see, our long-term memories work very similarly to corrector pens. We use them to cover a mistake and then write over the dried-out, new, white surface: We didn’t erase what’s underneath, we just wrote over it.

Time heals all wounds. As you experience positive events in your life and you make new, better memories, the old ones will slowly be erased. I have often experienced that when I try to recall some very traumatic experiences I had, I miss a lot of details. And the less I allow my mind to dwell on them, the less often I remember those experiences, the blurrier they become, and they affect me less and less. Give yourself the time that is necessary to forgive and forget.

Principle #6: Don’t reopen old wounds

It can be that someone who has offended you, doesn’t want to reconcile. It can also be that you forgive someone, but that person keeps hurting you. There are cases where you can do nothing to restore a relationship. You can’t help that person, and that person can’t help you. The only thing you can do is to put some distance between you and them. Staying connected to that person and trying to forgive them every time they hurt you, is akin to keeping a wound open and continually throwing disinfectant on top of it. Unless you disinfect it and close it once and for all, it won’t heal. And disinfectant can burn a lot!

You have to make your own judgment call on whether reconciliation is possible or not. Sometimes, unfortunately, putting distance between you and the person who hurt you is not possible (especially when the situation involves members of the family). But I’d argue that in most cases it is possible. Yet some people tend to go back to those who hurt them. Solomon had this to say about that tendency: “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).

This rather unappetizing Bible verse illustrates a point that is often expressed in the proverb which says that “insanity is doing the same thing again and again, expecting different results.” Some people are so wholeheartedly diplomatic (I know that because I’m one of them) that they’d go out of their way to try to reconcile with someone, even when that person wants nothing more than to see them suffer.

It’s important to understand the difference between love and trust: If we love everyone, we’re good people. If we trust everyone, we’re foolish. Sometimes it’s best to erase those who have wronged us from our lives. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a sin nor is it a display of weakness. You can’t force people to change, and you’d be foolish to allow yourself to go down with them. In fact, there’s a class of people that the Apostle Paul warned us to stay away from (the kind of people whom we can’t help, nor can they help us): “(1) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (4) traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (5) having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Principle #7: Don’t let your feelings control you

If we get angry when we remember something someone said or did to us, we’re not in control of our emotions, but we are being controlled by them. The six previous principles are a step-by-step guide to regain that control. Why is that important though? Solomon once wrote: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

When we are incapable of controlling our emotions, we become defenseless. The devil can do as he pleases with us because we’ll react to any provocation. When “unforgiveness” is in our hearts, this is what occurs.

When we decide to turn our anger into pity, to avoid assuming evil intent, to put justice in God’s hands, to repay evil with kindness, to allow ourselves the time to forget what was done to us, to move away from the situation, we are taking control back of our emotions and of our lives. Forgiveness gives us freedom.

Self-development tip #3

You won’t live long enough to make all possible mistakes, so learn from those of others.

Productivity tip #3

Good and efficient work comes from a good and efficient system.

Productivity tip #2

Your brain is meant to create ideas, not store them, so write them down.

Self-development tip #2

Be thankful for what you have, to not be sad about what you don’t.

Productivity tip #1

Fatigue is often just an emotion. Persist a little longer and it’ll usually go away.

Self-development tip #1

Count your blessings, and you won’t notice your misfortunes so much.

This work is dedicated to the public domain. To the extent possible under law, Cristiano Sequeira, the author of this blog, has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to all of its content. This work is published from: Latvia.

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