Opt-Into Forgiveness

May 4, 2022

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I'm Kelley β€” licensed therapist, burnout expert, and host of the Black Girl Burnout podcast. I encourage black women to opt out of struggle and opt into our legacy of joy and accomplishment. Join me!

Meet Kelley


Today, I want to ask you another question: do you struggle with forgiveness? I feel like that’s a loaded and complicated question. I think that a lot of people may say, “No, I forgive everyone.” However, when you then dig a little deeper underneath the surface, those feelings are often not sincere or true. If you struggle with being able to forgive, full-heartedly, this episode is for you. We will begin by talking about what forgiveness is and what forgiveness isn’t. When I’m talking about forgiveness, I want to be clear that I am not talking about condoning bad behavior, allowing people to mistreat you, or allowing people to disrespect you. Again, the whole goal of this podcast is to encourage the members of our community to opt-out of struggle on every level of our lives. Let’s talk about it.


Welcome to the Black Girl Burnout podcast, Kelly here.

And today, I want to ask you another question, which is, do you struggle with forgiveness? And I feel like that’s a loaded and complicated question. Because a lot of people may say, No, I forgive everyone. And then you dig a little deeper into the surface. And you think I don’t know that that’s forgiveness, as much as that’s letting people get away with really bad behavior. And then on the other hand, there are people who struggle with it that like when you do me wrong, we’re done. And I will never forgive you. And sometimes, that may be an appropriate response. And oftentimes, it’s not.

So in the spirit of that, I want to talk about how to opt in to forgiveness. And I want to be really clear about what we mean when we say forgiveness, what it means and what it doesn’t mean, and why we should do it. And also admit very transparently, that it can be difficult to forgive and tell you a little bit of my own journey into forgiveness, and where I am now on it, because I’m still learning. So to begin, let’s talk about what forgiveness is and what forgiveness isn’t. I think that’s really important. When I’m talking about forgiveness, I want to be clear that I am not talking about condoning bad behavior, allowing people to mistreat you, allowing people to disrespect you.

Again, the whole goal of this podcast is to get us to opt out of struggle to really leave behind the lies and the myths that tell us that our inheritance, what we’re here to do on this planet, is to struggle from one moment to the next. And if we are going to truly reject that lie and the lifestyle that accompanies it, well, then we have to be honest about the fact that if we allow people in our lives, who mistreat us repeatedly, and that we allow them to do it and call that forgiveness, we are never going to be able to opt out. No forgiveness is ultimately about us, and very little to do with the other person.

There may be times when we forgive someone and they never know that we’ve done in forgiveness is an act of self love. It’s an act of self love, because it is giving your self permission to move past the mistreatment of others. And I want us to hold on to that because that’s how I define forgiveness as an act of self love. And the act of giving ourselves permission. To move on to move beyond. I say that because when we frame it as an act of self love, it makes us very clear what we forgive and when we forgive, right? Is it loving to quote unquote forgive someone who consistently disrespects me? Is that self love? Versus verses? Is it loving? To forgive? So that I can opt into joy? Is it an act of self love? When I when I’m saying I’m going to forgive you? Does that get me to opt into abundance mindset because I refuse to hold a grudge against my boss who’s not paying me the way I deserve to be paid? Do you see that distinction? One is saying forgiveness, to cover over abuse, right and as allowing ourselves to be abused.

The other is forgiveness so that we can access joy, and access abundance and have community. One could be letting go or forgiving someone who is disrespectful, draining on our energy, unappreciative, and repeatedly doing so if we say we forgive that person, is that an act of self love? No. However, if we want to opt into community, it may mean that we have to forgive the small slights of others. Maybe someone said something to us in a way that made us feel away.

But we want to opt into community so we have a congress sation with them and we realize I don’t need to hold this, I don’t need to carry this. Carrying grudges and hate is a weight. And it’s a burden and it stops you. I think about this quote from Medgar Evers, who was a civil rights activist who was unfortunately assassinated. And he said, When you hate the only person that suffers is you. Because most of the time the people you hate, don’t know it, and the rest don’t care.

And I remember hearing that quote, for the first time, and when I tell you that hit my spirit, it was like a knife right into me. Because in full transparency, which is what I always try to do on this podcast, I have always struggled with forgiveness. Now, I’ve always told people and this is very true, that it takes a lot for me to get angry. I’m not an angry person by nature, like it takes a lot. There were times when I was younger, I think I got angry quicker. But overall, I’m not an angry person. I’m happy go lucky, I smile a lot. I laugh a lot. And many people’s slights and ridiculousness goes completely over my head, I don’t even let it hit me any kind of way, because I don’t even bother.

But there have been times in my life where people have done truly, unspeakably horrible things to me. And I spent a lot of time harboring resentment and anger, and being unable to forgive. And for most of those people, it was a journey and a process for me to let go of the anger I felt toward them. And that’s really what it was, it was more than hate. I’m not a person who hates people, but I was so angry at them. And then I heard this quote, about when you hate, the only person that suffers is you. And I thought, Okay, I’ll substitute anger because I don’t hate anyone. But I was so angry, and I realized the only person that was suffering was me.

And as the rest of the quote says, because most of the time the people you hate, don’t know it, and the rest don’t care. And when I went through the list, and to be honest, it wasn’t a long exhaustive list. But when I thought about the couple of people who really truly have hurt me, in my life, I realized that they fell into one of those two categories. They either didn’t know it, because they’d come in, left my life made all the mistakes hurt me and kept it moving. Or they straight up didn’t care. And me carrying around and the anger and a grudge toward people who didn’t even know I existed, or they didn’t know I existed, but didn’t bother to think about how their actions impacted me, or honestly weren’t capable of understanding how their actions impacted me.

And then I thought about the people who did me wrong. That just didn’t care. I think about traumatic jobs. I’ve had some really, really, really difficult moments in my career. And the anger that it inspired in me, made me say, I will not forgive you. But when I realized that forgiveness was an act of self love, it changed things. Because while I was angry, I was stuck. Now, there were aspects of my life that was thriving. i On the surface, I had a great job. I always had great jobs. I looked great. I was so shallow, my 20s As an aside, and I looked good, so I always look back on my 20s pictures and I’m like, Okay, look at Tim Keller, you were okay. I looked on the outside like I had it together.

But on the inside, I had headaches, headaches turned into migraines. I was frequently ill, and it was from stress. And a lot of it was the fact that I wasn’t forgiving and I was angry because I was really hurt by things that had happened to me. And I was traumatized by some of the things that happened to me. And I wasn’t dealing with it and that was masking that with anger. As we know hate and and grudges come from underneath it pain or fear. People are angry at what they do. Do not understand, which can turn into hate.

But ultimately, I was holding myself back. When I started the process of forgiveness, meaning I started being honest about what forgiveness meant. It didn’t mean that I ever was going to accept the behavior of somebody, it did not mean that I was ever going to let these people in my life again, or tell them it was fine or smile in their faces. I did not need to do that to forgive them. But it meant that if I loved myself, and I wanted to access my inheritance, I wanted to opt in to joy, I wanted to opt into having abundance in my life, I want to opt in to having people in my life again, having a community because when you’re hurt by people, you shut down, and you don’t trust that if I wanted to do that, I had to forgive.

And for me that forgiveness showed up and look like I refuse to carry the weight of your sin of your disrespect of your disregard for me, I refuse to carry that mistake within me. That is for you to carry. As the person who did me wrong, what I’m going to do is I am going to let go of the weight. And I’m going to call the letting go of that weight forgiveness. That doesn’t mean I went up to them and said, I forgive you and did a whole long speech some of those people I will never talk to again. But for me, forgiveness isn’t about an act of telling someone they’re forgiven. It’s about the putting off of a weight that doesn’t belong to you, or turning it to center. And maybe that means telling them that I’m no longer carrying this weight. But that is forgiveness. And letting go of that allows you to opt into joy.

And when I decided that forgiveness was an act of self love. And when I understood that forgiveness in action, what that means is me not carrying the burdens of someone else’s mistake. Sin, disrespect, however you want to phrase it. I got lighter. I got happier. I got good friends in my life. I met good people. I had great feelings. I was optimistic. I inherited a little piece of my birthright. So, today I want you to consider for your healing practice. Where in your life? Can you opt into forgiveness? There was a podcast episode that was called whose burdens are you carrying? And I think it’s worth re listening if you’re struggling with this concept. But I want you to think about where are you feeling weight?

And where can you take that weight off of yourself by engaging in some forgiveness, engaging in an act of self love and engaging in forgiveness as a way to return the burden of somebody else’s disrespect and mistake back to them return that thing to sender. And that can be your act of forgiveness. You deserve to feel light. You deserve to have joy and a smile. And a spring in your step. Don’t let resentment stop you from having that. Let go of those burdens and engage in some self love by opting into forgiveness.

So that’s it for this episode of the podcast. I always say this podcast is across all major platforms. So please subscribe to the podcast so you can find out each episode when it drops, share this podcast, I really feel that Blackall burnout is more than this a podcast. It’s a movement. We’re all opting out together and we are opting out across the world. There are listeners in the UK in South Africa, so many of you are listening in Canada. And of course the United States shout out to Texas and Georgia and New York and so many more states. There are truly 1000s of us agreeing to opt out. You are not alone on this journey and we want to keep increasing this community of listenership.

So if this podcast resonates with you, please share it across your networks. I get messages from all of you often talking about how this podcast is I’m affecting you and it makes my whole entire day. And I think you will and I remain so grateful. You can always reach out to me @kellyabonner, my name across all the platforms. And I am so thankful to you and I’m thankful to this community. So if you feel grateful about this podcast, please feel free also to give us a rating. Now you can give ratings on Spotify and also on Apple podcasts as usual.

Dear listeners until we talk again, take care of yourself and take care of each other.


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Are you a black woman who has been feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and confined to the struggle? If so, the Black Girl Burnout podcast is here for you. Journey along with host Kelley Bonner as she interviews guests and shares personal anecdotes about productive ways to opt-out of struggle and opt into happiness,Β  while navigating the unique challenges and joys of being a black woman in today’s world. From work and relationships to self-care and mental health, this podcast is a safe space to explore and find support along the journey towards your goals. Join our community and start feeling more connected and less burnt out.

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Special thanks and appreciation to the team for all that you do! 🧑

Producer  – Wendye Walter

Creative Director – William Cornell

Associate Producer – Amanda St. Maur

Cover Art – Reignland Creatives