When explaining what 'excusing' is, I have referred to it as 'instant forgiveness'. Excuse is actually a synonym for the word forgive. But, I don't think they're identical. They're very similar - but not equal.
The act of excusing, and the act of forgiving are similar in that the person who forgives, or the person who excuses, is the one who benefits the most – most directly.
To use an old expression, both excusing and forgiving help get whatever someone else did "off your chest". Both 'lift' an internal, emotional burden. More realistically, I think either act helps get it 'off our minds' – out of our thoughts and consciousness.
But, I think there is an important difference.
When someone does something 'wrong' in our eyes, it's our interpretation of wrongness based on our past conditioning, and our beliefs.
For simplicity, let's use the name Joe in this example.
When the forgiver forgives, he's thinking or saying Joe did something wrong, but he's going to 'let Joe off the hook', or 'pardon' Joe even though Joe was wrong, and is wrong. With forgiveness the wrongdoer (Joe) is still wrong. The judgment is still there.
I think excusing is different. It's at a different level, a deeper level. To me, excusing is more thorough. It's more complete.
My belief is that excusing 'erases' the wrong. It literally takes away the wrong, the judgment of wrong, the thought of wrong.
Think about it this way: When we 'excuse' Joe by saying or thinking, "Joe's not wrong, he's average" we are actually saying "He is NOT wrong". The judgment actually becomes non-judgment. The judgment is wiped out, eliminated. In a sense, it's vanished. It's gone. Plus, any hurt or discomfort that was there for what Joe did or did not do is moved out.
Picture writing the words "Joe is wrong" on a whiteboard or a blackboard. That's the statement, the judgment, the belief, the thought. If you take an eraser and wipe off the words "Joe is wrong" the words are gone, the board is clean again. The words have disappeared.
By saying/thinking "Joe is not wrong, he's average" – the statement "Joe is wrong" or "Joe is bad" goes away --- completely.
Here's another way to think about how excusing works:
You've got a white kitchen towel with a brown coffee stain on it. You can wet the towel and pour some household chlorine bleach on it. The bleach neutralizes, eliminates, removes the brown stain. It's gone.
That's what I believe excusing does. The conscious act of excusing clears out and cleans out, it deletes -- it totally gets rid of the judgment, the accusation, the blame, the hard feelings, the hurt, the pain, the burden, the internal irritation, the inner upset that sometimes turns into outer upset.
Excusing is not just a technique to use on 'them' – when we're thinking other people, or some thing out there is 'wrong'. It's just as important to use "I'm not wrong, I'm average" to cancel out self-blame, the self-criticism, the fault-finding, the negative thoughts and judgments about ourselves that create shame, lack of confidence and low self-worth.
Call it excusing, call it forgiveness –- it doesn't really matter. What does matter is getting rid of the 'he's wrong/she's wrong/I'm wrong/that's just not right' thinking that weighs us down, keep us from feeling good and being At Ease & In Control.
© 2013 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved