socio-political self-help and stuff
when you say that you forgive someone, do you just say it? or do you really mean it? i ask this question because the issue of forgiveness and the inability to truly do so is a recurring theme in my life these days… i’ve heard the statement “i’ve forgiven him/her/them” spoken through clenched teeth. followed by nasty statements about the person/people. call me the bearer of bad news, if it helps, but you have not forgiven someone if you remain angry with them. you have not forgiven someone if the very thought of them or their actions cause any discomfort within. you have not forgiven someone if you harbor anything but love and light for another – regardless of what they did to you.
so how does one reach a place of forgiveness? admittedly, it is a difficult road to travel. at least, when you take your first steps down that path… and like anything you do in life, once you do it the first time, it becomes easier and easier as you go along. here are a few tips to help you reach a true place of forgiveness.
one. be honest with yourself about what you are feeling. if you feel hurt, acknowledge the feeling. tell yourself the truth! allow yourself the ability to feel what you’re feeling – in your body, your mind, your spirit. this is not to say wallow in it forever. it is to say that you must face your feelings from the experience.
two. take responsibility for your role in whatever transpired. did you go along with someone that you knew you could not trust? did you remain a party to a hurtful relationship after you’d been burned before? did you have unreasonable expectations of another’s capabilities? i know what you’re thinking – i can’t make anyone do anything to hurt me. and you are correct. still. you have a choice in the power you give another. you get to decide how you will react to another’s actions. you make choices that don’t always turn out the way you expected. and ya know? we all do. it’s okay. if you truly wish to find forgiveness, then you’ve also gotta look within. see what you could have done differently. what you will do in the future.
three. find compassion for the person who hurt you. each one of us makes a mistake at some point in our lives. each one of us will hurt another person in our lifetime. each one of us is human. including the person who may have hurt you. have you ever done anything un/intentionally that you’d like forgiveness for? so does the person who hurt you. and even if they don’t, this isn’t about them. forgiveness is for you.
four. release the negative emotions related to what you are forgiving. surrender. let it go. whatever you have to do. “anger is like holding on to a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” – buddha. couldn’t have said it better myself.
five. commit yourself to constant forgiveness. every time that you have a thought that reminds you of what the other person did, remind yourself that you have forgiven them. no matter how many times that you have to do this. do it. remember. this is for you.
six. don’t forget to forgive yourself. oftentimes, we don’t realize that we’ve blamed ourselves (totally different from taking responsibility for our role) for whatever happened and we might feel embarrassed that we allowed someone to disrespect us, lie to us, or hurt us. forgive yourself. you are human. no one walking the planet has perfect judgment. no one. including you. so lighten the load of self- judgment and let go of any resentment you might feel for yourself. you deserve it.
seven. make peace with the situation. can you accept what happened without holding on to remnants of pain? is there a lesson somewhere in there for you? a blessing, maybe? i am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. often times, the things that come our way are meant to teach us more about ourselves and others. situations occur to show us where we might look to improve within. remember, your life is a reflection of what you think and feel. and we attract what we are. so, find peace with your hurt by examining the good that may come from it.
take all the time that you need in order to work your way through the steps. trust yourself to know when it is time to move on to the next step or revisit an old one. if you find that you need more than seven steps, i recommend completing the forgiveness diet, a workbook created by iyanla vanzant and the good folks over at inner visions institute. and if you find that you need more than a workbook, please, seek help from a professional. this is your life. finding forgiveness for others will make it so much easier for yourself…