How to truly forgive and set yourself free
A dear friend asked me recently; what does it actually mean to forgive?
And how do we know if we have truly forgiven someone?
It’s almost a prerequisite of the human condition that we experience being hurt by others. Misunderstandings occur… we are treated badly, trust is lost, hearts are broken, and deeply felt hurt sets in to do its worst.
While this pain is normal, sometimes that pain lingers for far too long. We relive the hurt over and over, and have a hard time letting go. We dwell on the misery and retell the story over and over again, even if only in our mind….or to any poor soul who will listen.
And the damage has only just begun. This constant replaying not only causes us to be unhappy, but can strain or ruin relationships, distract us from work and family and other important things, make us reluctant to open up to new things and people.
We get trapped in a cycle of anger and hurt, and miss out on the beauty of life as it happens. It is said that this is not living…but dying.
Energetically it is wreaking havoc with our bodies. We become bitter and resentful, ultimately hurting ourselves on a cellular level. In other words: we get sick. Dis-ease finds a fertile breeding ground where resentment and anger lay unresolved in the body.
We need to learn to let go. We need to be able to forgive, so we can move on and be happy. Happiness it is said, is the best revenge!
Forgiveness can and will change your life.
Forgiveness does not mean you erase the past, or forget what has happened.
It doesn’t even mean the other person will change their behavior… you cannot control that. All it means is that you are letting go of the anger and pain, and moving on to a better place.
It’s not easy. But it is possible.
Actually… it is VITAL.
If you’re holding onto pain, reliving it, and can’t let go or forgive, here are some ways that I have found relief…
1. Be willing to forgive. Sounds simple, but just check in with yourself to see just how willing you really are. Without this vital ingredient the recipe will fail every time.
2. Commit to letting go. As an act of emotional maturity, recognize that the pain of holding on to a grievance is an act of self attack and therefore is hurting you the most. Commit to letting go and moving on.
3. Realize you have a choice. You cannot control the actions of others. But you can control not only your actions, but your thoughts. You can stop reliving the hurt, and can choose to move on. You have this power. You just need to learn how to exercise it.
4. Take responsibility for your actions. Own your part in the situation. What could you have done to prevent it, and how can you prevent it from happening next time? This isn’t to say you’re taking the blame, or that it is your fault or taking responsibility away from the other person, but to realize that we are not victims but participants in life.
5. Focus on the present. Now that you’ve reflected on the past, realize that the past is over. It isn’t happening anymore, except in your mind, which leads to more unhappiness and stress. Bring your focus back to the present moment. Live in the moment. Find the joy in life now, as it happens, and stop reliving the past. It will be natural that you will inevitably start thinking about the past again, but just acknowledge that, and gently bring yourself back to the present moment.
6. Forgiveness is an act of loving kindness… for YOU and everyone concerned.
7. Understand that Forgiveness will set you free. Often the thought is that to forgive is to condone an action or trespass against you. Or that to forgive will somehow be letting other person off the hook. Understand that the only person suffering is YOU. You’ll be the one set free.
8. These simply words have great power:
I LOVE YOU
PLEASE FORGIVE ME
9. Finally … How do you know that you have truly forgiven someone?
You’re no longer in torment. You’ll experience a freedom and an opening of your heart and you’ll feel lighter. You’ll be able to talk or think about the situation without any pain …but as it will be of no consequence to you any longer as you’ll be too busy doing fun things and enjoying your life!
….If this not the case just repeat steps 1 to 8 as many times as required.
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