The Gift of Forgiveness by Christina Young
Not being able or prepared to forgive is one of the biggest stumbling blocks on the road to repairing relationships. It’s a hurdle you have to overcome if you want to move forwards rather than keep stuttering and choking.
When we forgive someone, it is also a great gift that we give to ourselves. If we do not totally forgive those who have hurt us, then we will never be truly free. Forgiveness is the ultimate letting go in a healing process. All the time you hold onto the anger and hatred towards the person who has hurt you, you only punish yourself. The person who has hurt you does not even have to know you have forgiven them. I know that when I wrote the email to my friend who had an affair with my husband, it gave me a feeling of freedom.
Forgiveness is not just about saying, “I forgive you” It is actually a state of being. It is a feeling and there is no mistaking it when we feel it. When you forgive yourself and others, it has to be unconditional, for you to feel totally free. When we forgive ourselves, which I feel is more important than forgiving the person that has hurt us, it also allows us to forgive any hurt we might have caused other people. I strongly believe that whatever happens in our life is for a reason. It helps us to find out who we are and helps us to grow stronger. Thinking in this way, can help us to see difficult situations as opportunities for growth and learning and perhaps even be grateful for the “teachers” responsible for the lesson.
Here’s a step by step guide on how to forgive, ending with a physical exercise that you can do.
The 14 Steps To Forgiveness
- Before you forgive anyone else you need to forgive yourself – let go of any blame you are attaching to yourself for what happened. You need to look at how you were performing in the relationship and how you may have contributed to what happened, so having learned from all that you must also forgive yourself for it.
- Accept that whatever happens in life happens for a reason and we need to look at all of our challenges as a learning experience that will be followed by a new opening for us
- Remember that forgiveness is a process, not an instant fix. Our emotions have been turned upside down so it’s going to take a while for them to settle down. Focus on moving forward from whatever point you’re at and continually making progress
- Take all the time you need, respect your feelings and wait until you’re really ready to forgive. But remember to accept responsibility for your emotions and remember that even though you were the one who was wronged, only you can decide when you’re ready to stop feeling angry and upset. At some point, in order to move on, you (and only you) will have to make a decision and give yourself permission to forgive
- Remember that your partner’s actions don’t necessarily mean they don’t love you, nor does it make you, or your relationship a failure. What it does mean that there are essential issues that need to be addressed
- Let your partner know how you feel, that you’re deeply hurt and angry and that you need their support and complete understanding of what you’re going through. You probably won’t feel truly ready to forgive until you know your partner has heard and understood your perspective.
- Try to understand your partner’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it. Think about how they might be feeling, why they did what they did and whether there have been any circumstances in their lives that may have contributed towards or made them vulnerable to their wrongdoings
- Remember that forgiving doesn’t mean you will forget what happened but that it means that you’ve accepted what happened and are ready to move forwards without bringing the past into your future. So the message here is ‘forgive and accept’ rather than ‘forgive and forget’
- To avoid getting dragged into the past, focus on creating future memories together with your partner. If you do find yourself thinking about the past, focus on the good times rather than the bad ones.
- Accept that no-one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Make sure that your partner is prepared to learn from their mistakes to make sure they’re not repeated, then take comfort from that. It’s easier to forgive when you’ve already built the foundations for trusting again (rebuilding the trust is covered in the next section). It’s easier to forgive in the knowledge that you’ve set your boundaries (also covered later) and made agreements about future acceptable behaviour within your relationship.
- Think of times in your own life when you did something wrong which hurt or disappointed others. It might not have been as serious as the hurt that you are having to forgive, but nevertheless it still needed forgiveness. It’s easier to forgive others when we are conscious of our own mistakes and weaknesses, rather than taking a superior ‘I’m better than you’ attitude.
- Think about what you’ve learned from the experience and how it can help you or how you can use it to help others. It’s easier to forgive something or someone when you can see that the pain it has caused hasn’t been all for nothing or meaningless
- Remember that forgiveness is something you do for you, not for your partner or anyone else. Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself to be free from the hurt and pain and to allow yourself to move forwards in whatever way and with whoever you choose.
- Once you’ve made the decision to forgive, it helps if you can take physical as well as verbal or mental action, so here’s an actual physical exercise that you can do. Take a piece of paper and write down:
- The name of the person you want to forgive
- Exactly how that person has wronged you
- Exactly how you are feeling about this (identify all your emotions here)
- ‘I accept that I own these emotions, that I am in control of them, that no one can make me feel anything and that I can choose to let go of them whenever I please
- ‘Even though I have no idea why or how, I acknowledge that this situation has been created in order that I learn and evolve into a greater being’
- ‘I forgive_________(name) for_______(write everything down) which made me feel__________(write everything down)’
- Say out loud ‘I am making a decision now to forgive________(name). Say it with real meaning and with love and make sure it’s coming from your heart. If you want put your hand across your heart as you say it.
- Take a match to the piece of paper and say goodbye to all the negative things you wrote down as you watch them disappear in smoke
Christina Young is known as the Healing Heart Coach helping women move from emotional pain to happiness and love.