Atonement is a great word that we put into action too little. It requires taking responsibility for our own actions and making amends for any wrong doing.
Atonement is a necessary act for our life to move forward towards a positive and constructive direction. Atonement allows us to letting go of our destructive ego talk that wants us to be right instead of happy.
But what happens when someone we trust betray us?
When we open our heart to others we become vulnerable. We trust that the person will act honestly and lovingly towards us, and if that does not happen, pain will allow all sorts of bad feelings to come up. Sadness, bitterness, resentment, anger, jealousy, suspicion and so on replace the sentiment of affection there was before, changing completely the perception we have of that person and of ourselves as well.
Judgement and ego talk
I have recently realised that – consciously or unconsciously – I have judged and criticised people I love. It is difficult to admit to yourself you have done something wrong, and that your actions have a part in someone’s betrayal of your trust. But in all honesty there is no relationship screw up that holds 100% responsibility on one side only.
We often criticise in others what we do not like about ourselves and we do not have the courage to admit it. Denial is a powerful weapon that – sooner or later – will backfire.
But how to get over our denial?
We ask what we did to make the other person act that way and we answer honestly. We then allow ourselves to recognise the situation for what it is, feel the pain we were trying to avoid, and finally take the courage to look at our behaviour.
Atonement is about recognising the mistake, making amend, and moving on. The act of atonement is easy to say, more difficult to do.
Recent circumstances in my life pushed me to open my heart and look honestly at my actions. For the first time in my life I was able to see the situation and my role in it for what it really was. And now I know that I am not innocent.
Do I feel guilty? Yes, I do. But I also know there is no point in feeling that way because what really matters is to learn the lesson.
I judged harshly my father for his pride and the consequences he left me to deal with, but in the end I found out I was not acting very differently. He did not have time to atone for his actions because life was taken away from him, but if something good came from it is that I am still alive and I can learn from his mistakes, and especially from mine. I can learn to become a better person by starting recognising my limits and working on them so that I can be a better person.
When is a relationship worth saving?
Being honest and sincere is more difficult that I thought.
When we feel we are not able to tell the truth to our friends, express our discomfort at certain actions or words, we build up resentment. These small cracks in a relationship will seriously mine the entire foundations of that relationship.
You need to ask yourself a simple question. Is it the relationship giving us pleasure, happiness and it is stress free almost all the time? If it is not, it is maybe time to move on and let the good times together be just a good memory.
The difficult part is accepting that it is ok not to have some people in your life anymore. Values, beliefs and behaviours can be different or in same cases change altogether according to different circumstances in life. It just happens. And if the relationship becomes painful and stressful, maybe it is ok to let it go.
For a period of time we enriched each other’s life and it is a big gift we gave to each other for what we need to be grateful. But that is it.
Does atonement mean I have to forget everything that happened?
Your act of atonement cannot undo the wrong doing that others did to you.
Dishonesty, disloyalty, unethical actions and motives will not be undone and are not to be forgotten as they never happened. If they did happen, they contributed to eroding the relationship. Those actions are to be also kept in mind as important factors when deciding whether it is worth saving the relationship or not. To do so, you need to see the nature of your relationship for what it truly is. Trust that is broken beyond repair marks inevitably the end of a relationship, no matter how much history and life sharing there was. And this is true when love is concerned as well as friendship and business.
The important thing is not taking yourself out of the equation by justifying your negative feelings or actions on the basis that some people’s actions were hurtful first. You had your own part in the whole picture and your feelings of criticism are to be looked at and atoned for. We all need to take responsibility for the outcome of our relationships. It will set us free.
What comes next? Atone. Learn. Move forward. Remember. Forgive others. And forgive yourself. Your life and your future relationships will be much better.
Have you ever felt the need to atone for your mistakes? Let us know your personal experience by leaving a comment below.