8 Steps to Forgiveness – When It’s Time to Move On
Whether it’s feelings of being rejected, ridiculed or betrayed we have all experienced, at some time in our life, the pain of being let down by someone we liked, loved or trusted.
Once we have gone through the shock and swell of emotions, we are faced with a new challenge – to hold on to the pain or to let it go.
Holding on to painful memories and negative emotions can have harmful consequences to our inner life causing us to feel stuck, anxious or depressed.
When we continue to run the event in our mind, we are letting our unconscious think that more bad things keep happening to us and we continue to relive the pain. By residing in emotions such as resentment, revenge, and anger, we can cause more harm to ourselves as research has shown these feelings can have detrimental effects on our physical and emotional health
When we choose to let go, we experience forgiveness.
Forgiveness is about making a conscious decision to acknowledge the event as it happened, not as you think it should have happened and to release the negative and resentful emotions you have towards the person who hurt you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget or pretend that it didn’t happen. Nor does it mean that you become numb to your emotions or feel bad or wrong about being hurt. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are condoning or making excuses for the other person’s actions.
When you choose to forgive you are doing something for yourself. You are letting go of the painful emotions, and giving yourself a chance to heal your wounds. By engaging in forgiveness, you can acknowledge you’re suffering without letting it define who you are, and can move forward without being anchored to the past.
Forgiveness is a process that we go through to understand the impact the event had on our lives. Before we can start the journey of forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive; here is an 8-step forgiveness exercise that has helped me find peace.
8 Step Forgiveness Exercise
Find a quiet place, get yourself centred and focus on your breathing
- Recall the incident – write down what happened and how you reacted. It’s important to accept that it did happen and acknowledge your feelings.
- Which part of the situation hurt you the most or what are you not willing to let go of. This might reveal an unconscious rule that you hold for yourself or others. Be partial to judgment.
- Take a broader perspective and think of all the possible causes that could have influenced that person who hurt you the way they did, for example, their upbringing, childhood or insecurities? This is not about making excuses for their behaviour but rather understanding that they too are human and are partial to having flaws.
- Ask yourself “What did I learn from this situation?” “What did I learn about my current boundaries?” Be gentle with yourself; this is not about blame but wisdom. Think about how you might want to incorporate your findings into your life to serve you in the future.
- Knowing what you know now – make a note of what you would do differently if the situation presented itself again.
- Think about how holding on to this anger or resentment is hurting you. These emotions are toxic, and there has been much research linking anger with adverse health problems.
- Find yourself a safe place where you can express your feelings. Write a letter to the person who hurt you. This letter is for your eyes only, so let your thoughts and feelings flow on to the page. Once you have got all your emotions out. Tear up the letter and throw it in the rubbish, imagining yourself letting go of the hurt when you do so.
- Sit quietly and relax. Make a choice to disengage from the situation and reflect on the good things in your life. Whatever we focus on grows, so focus on things that you are grateful for.
Holding on to past hurts do more harm to ourselves. When we choose to forgive and let go of the painful emotions we are giving ourselves a chance to heal and move forward in our life.
Are you finding it difficult to forgive someone?
Image: Denys Nevozhai: Unsplash