It can be exciting and liberating whilst at the same time evoke feelings of resentment and sometimes trigger a confrontation.
It’s something that we’re encouraged to do from an early age.
Remember when you were at school and the big kid pushed you over in the playground or stole the toy you were playing with? You were taught to kiss and make up.
I’m teaching Muffin the very same lesson at the moment. When the bigger kids push past him on the climbing frame in the park, I find myself reassuring him with the words, “they didn’t mean it.”
So what happens to us when we get older? Why do we find it so hard to kiss and make up?
Perhaps it’s our pride or our stubbornness. Maybe we allow our egos to get in the way.
Maybe we think that forgiveness is a sign of weakness and we choose to withdraw our love instead. This usually creates further distance in the relationship and more unnecessary pain in the long run.
But if we can find it in our hearts to forgive those who have wronged us then the benefits can be HUGE.
If we train ourselves to become better at forgiving then we free ourselves from the shackles and torments of the past.
As liberated souls we’re able to live far simpler lives. With less internal conflict and fewer distresses in our relationships we can become calmer and more content.
Now before we delve deeper into this let me confess something to you.
Forgiveness is something that I work on massively in my life. I’m not a pro at it and I practice forgiveness as much as I practice being grateful, which is on a daily basis. (You can check out the post on the benefits of Gratitude here).
I understand that holding onto grudges is a grievance that only I bear and the only way to lessen the load is to find it in my heart to forgive.
There are people in my life that I know I need to forgive, which I’m working on.
There are also people in my life that I know could work on forgiving me and I send out a ray of thanks in advance to them for trying to do that.
I’m sure you can relate to this because we all have people in our lives that we need to forgive and vice versa.
When it comes to the delicate art of forgiveness, I’ve found these points to work extremely well.
Your 6 steps on your path to forgiveness:
It’s important to accept that the event happened. Acknowledge that someone wronged you and that you feel pain as a result. Accept the fact that the bad thing happened.
I know this sounds obvious but its surprising the amount of people that live in a state of denial. They dumb down the event so it doesn’t sound like a big deal or they catastrophise it into something bigger than it actually was
Don’t do that. Just accept it for what it was.
2. It ain’t cool
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that what they did to you was okay and by accepting that it happened doesn’t make it right.
Let’s face it there are some good, wonderful and exceptional individuals in the world but there are also people that do mean and atrocious things.
Sadly, evil exists and it sometimes enters our world uninvited and casts a shadow at our door.
Bad things happen that can be so damaging, undeniably painful, so unnecessary and unjustified.
It’s ok to forgive the person that hurt you whilst at the same time acknowledging that what they did was fucked up. Don’t feel bad about feeling this way.
Treat the experience as a lesson where you learn that you never have to tolerate their shit again.
3. Ask yourself, “What is holding on to the pain costing you?”
Think about these questions:
I’m guessing quite a few, am I right?
You’ve probably bored any sorry soul that would give you the time of day to listen to your past grievances.
Now ask yourself, did you feel any better?
The truth is the no matter how many times you retell the story the ending is still the same.
The past is in the past and what’s done is done.
When we hold on to the pain our resentment deepens and this prevents us from moving forward emotionally and spiritually.
Resentment is an ugly little bugger that serves very little purpose in the progression of our lives.
As the saying goes, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill my enemies.”
It might be time to ask yourself, how much holding onto the pain is really costing you?
4. Forgiveness is about YOU
I think once you’ve worked through stages 1,2 & 3 you reach this sunshine moment.
Trust me, when you get your head round this 4th concept you’ll be looking to forgive every sorry sucker that ever did you wrong.
So here it is, forgiving the other person isn’t about them, it’s about YOU.
When you forgive someone you liberate yourself from the past, you take back control and you reclaim ownership of your life.
This isn’t some new age positive thinking, You Can Do It, bullshit. It’s the absolute truth and it works.
When you decide to forgive someone who has hurt you, wronged you or betrayed you then you stop being the victim because you regain control of your life.
Forgiveness can be wonderfully empowering and that’s why it’s so phenomenal!
5. Forgiveness isn’t a blame and shame game.
We have to resist blaming and shaming people for their indiscretions.
We know what they did was bad. Heck, they probably know what they did was bad, even if they don’t admit it.
That’s ok. The point of forgiving them isn’t to make them feel bad. Nor is it to squeeze an apology out of them at all costs.
If they say sorry then great but no biggie if they don’t because that shouldn’t be your primary reason for choosing to forgive them.
Remember, the goal is to improve the quality of your life by letting this burden go.
There’s no need to sit face-to-face with the accused and thrash it out in a slanging match of tit-for-tat He said She said crap. Bad idea.
I would especially avoid a conversation with a volatile character or someone who you know will be stubborn and unreceptive to your feelings. Trust me, when I say that’s a recipe for disaster.
At this time its best to practice forgiveness on your own and in private.
Try to give that person the benefit of the doubt and consider their words or actions as an error in judgement. Tell yourself that you know they’re not bad people deep down.
You’ll probably realise that they never intended to hurt you.
When you operate from this place of empathy you can begin to understand where the other person is coming from.
Bonus Tip! Something else that I’ve found to help exceptionally well in harnessing forgiveness is sympathy.
As you know, we all have our stories. These are the things that have happened to us throughout our lives.
The events we’ve engaged in, the people that we’ve met and the experiences that we’ve had all shape our world and mould us into the people we are today.
I think if we’re honest with ourselves we’ll find fair and understandable reasons why people do what they do, why they behave the way they behave and why they say what they say.
And although their actions can be hurtful, I truly believe that sympathising with them can help us to understand where they’re coming from.
Forgiveness can flow a little easier when we allow ourselves to consider things from the other person’s point of view. Give it a try.
6. Forgiveness gives you the strength to help others
This final point is quite beautiful and in many ways embodies what I know to be true in myself and in you as part of the Pearl Grace family.
When you forgive someone you acquire an inner strength to help others, whether you realise it or not.
When you’ve gone through a painful experience and embark on a process of self-healing you can become an inspiration to other people who are at the start of a similar journey.
You can become a person of service, support, and encourage other people because you’ve already gone through it yourself.
One of the single most important things we can do in this world before we become one of the faithful departed is to give back, to contribute to the planet and to benefit society in someway.
Forgiving people enables us to do that in our own unique way.
That’s what we’re doing here at Pearl Grace. Through my own pains, trials, lessons and experiences I’m sharing what I’ve learnt and picked up along the way in hope that we may all lead happier and more fulfilled lives.
And I know you can do the same. This is where the art of forgiveness really manifests into something special. Something great.
You are special and although you’ve experienced pain, you are now in a unique position to share your experience with the world and to help and strengthen those around you.
Now, that’s a beautiful thing.
It’s quote time, baby! This week is a double whammy extravaganza – 2 for the price of 1!
I couldn’t choose between which of these I preferred the most and because I love you so much I’ve decided to share them both:
“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” – Hannah More
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jnr.
Shine like a bright beacon of light and show forgiveness where love is missing.
Title image courtesy of Sally Dell.