Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
Forgiving is a necessary part of moving on that many stubbornly refuse to consider to their personal detriment.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is not saying that how you wronged me is Ok. Forgiveness is not permission to do it again. Forgiveness is setting yourself free. Forgiveness is choosing to end the suffering.
Forgiveness is not easy but it is necessary to achieve personal freedom. While we are stuck and festering in our "it shouldn't have happened to me" story then we remain mired in the past, frozen in time and feeling powerless to change.
Forgiveness is a tool. A tool which when all the healing and reflecting has been done sets us free. Impelling us forward towards a future of increased quality, that is, if we have chosen to grow in response to what we initially deemed to be unforgiveable.
I ask you to consider this... What is more unforgiveable? The crime that has been committed against you or that you are the one who is paying the price for the crimes committed against you?
You see while we are holding onto those metaphoric coals of hot resentment, the 'unforgiven' are busily living their lives and may even be enjoying the fact that you are stuck. That is if they give it any thought at all. They may be blissfully ignorant, think you are over reacting or simply don't care. Whatever it is they are moving right along while you are carrying the life limiting burden of their crimes.
It is ll well and good to say "forgive" but how do you go about that? Here are a few ideas for you to consider rather than to continue losing sleep while you plot different ways to exact your revenge.
Unsplash Toa Heftiba
1. Move On to the Next Act
Your past history and all of your hurts are no longer here they are memories. Don’t allow those memories to pollute the here and now. Your life is like a play with several acts. Some of the characters who enter have short roles to play, others, much larger. Some are villains and others are good guys. But all of them contribute in some way. Embrace the opportunity for personal growth, and move on to the next act.
2. Don’t Go to Sleep Angry
Use the time before sleep to affirm what you want to create in your life not to mill over the “don’t wants”. Mulling over the hurts, the disappointments and negative events in your life do not lead to good sleep or good experiences in the next day.
3. Switch the Focus from Blaming Others to Understanding Yourself
Whenever you’re upset over the behavior of others and you hold others responsible for your inner distress you are giving away your personal power. Instead you can shift your mental energy to focus on and allow yourself to be with whatever you’re feeling.
Don’t blame yourself either! Just allow the experience to unfold and tell yourself that no one has the power to upset you without your permission.
Be willing to freely experience your emotions without calling them “wrong” or needing to chase them away. You will move from victim to victor.
It’s important to bypass blame, and even to bypass your desire to understand the other person; instead, focus on understanding yourself.
By taking responsibility for how you choose to respond to anything or anyone, you’re aligning yourself with that which empowers you.
4. Avoid Telling People What to Do
Avoid thoughts and activities that involve telling people who are perfectly capable of making their own choices what to do. In your family, remember that you do not own anyone.
In fact, disregard any inclination to dominate in all of your relationships. Listen rather than lecture. Pay attention to yourself when you’re having judgmental opinions and see where self-attention takes you.
5. Learn to Let Go and Be Like Water
Rather than attempting to dominate with your forcefulness, be like water... flow everywhere there’s an opening. Soften your hard edges by being more tolerant of contrary opinions. Interfere less, and substitute listening for directing and telling.
When someone offers you their viewpoint, try responding with: “I’ve never considered that before—thank you. I’ll give it some thought.”
When you give up interfering, and opt instead to stream like water—gently, softly, and unobtrusively— you become forgiveness itself.
6. Take Responsibility for Your Part
Removing blame means never assigning responsibility to anyone else for what you’re experiencing.
It means that you’re willing to say, “I may not understand why I feel this way, why I have this illness, why I’ve been victimized, or why I had this accident, but I’m willing to say without any guilt or resentment that I own it.
If you take responsibility for having the experience, then at least you have a chance to also take responsibility for removing it or learning from it.
If, on the other hand, someone or something else is responsible in your mind, then of course you’ll have to wait until they change for you to get better. And that is unlikely to occur.
7. Let Go of Resentments
What causes annoyance and anger after a dispute? Mostly it is our need to create a laundry list detailing why the other person was wrong and how illogically and unreasonably they behaved, creating the story which might look like this “I have a right to be upset when my speaks to me that way!”
So when all of the yelling, screaming, and threatening words have been expressed, the time for calm has arrived. Remember that no storm lasts forever unless you choose to make it forever.
8. Be Kind Instead of Right
There is a Chinese proverb, If you’re going to pursue revenge, you’d better dig two graves. I interpret that as meaning your resentments will destroy you.
The world is just the way it is. The people who are behaving “badly” are not thinking of you – it is not personal – it is a projection of what they need to work on not on your value as a person. You can process it in any way that you choose and you can also choose not to be around them.
If you’re filled with anger about all of those “problems,” you are one more person who contributes to the pollution of anger. You need to give up the need to make others wrong or to retaliate when you’ve been wronged. You can choose to be kind rather than being right and that kindness ultimately is of benefit to you.
9. Practice Giving
In the midst of arguments or disagreements, practice giving rather than taking before you exit. Give yourself permission to leave, to protect yourself and the other person. Give yourself the space to create positive relationships by letting go of those that bring out the worst in you. Give yourself time to heal and discover the best version of “yourself”.
10. Stop Looking for Occasions to Be Offended
We are unaware of how much time we and energy we spend looking for opportunities to be offended. A news report, a rude stranger, someone swearing, a sneeze, a black cloud —just about anything will do if you are on the lookout. Become a person who refuses to be offended by anyone, anything, or any set of circumstances.
If you have enough faith in your own beliefs, and a strong sense of who you are you’ll find that it’s impossible to be offended by the beliefs and behaviors of others.
Not being offended is a way of saying, “I have control over how I’m going to feel, and I choose to feel peaceful regardless of what I observe going on.
When you feel offended, you’re practicing judgment. You judge someone else to be stupid, insensitive, rude, arrogant, inconsiderate, or foolish, and then you find yourself upset and offended by their conduct.
What you may not realize is that when you judge another person, you do not define them. You define yourself as someone who needs to judge others.
11. Don’t Live In the Past – Be Present
When we find it difficult to forgive, often it is because we are not living in the present, and instead, we assign more importance to the past. We assign a good portion of our energy and attention lamenting the good old days that are gone forever as the reason why we can’t be happy and fulfilled today. “Everything has changed,” “No one respects anyone else like they used to…” This is assigning responsibility to the past for why you can’t be happy today.
12. Change Your Relationship to Your Dark Times
Those dark times, accidents, tough episodes, break ups, periods of money troubles, illnesses, abuses, and broken dreams happened. You can’t un-happen them so to move forward and create a life of quality you need to change your relationship with those dark times.
Instead of wishing things were different, embrace them and then understand them, accept them, honor them, and finally transform them. What have you learned, how can you grow, how can you improve?
13. Refrain from Judgement
When you stop judging and simply become an observer, you will know inner peace. With that sense of inner peace, you’ll find yourself happier and free of the negative energy of resentment. A bonus is that you’ll find that others are much more attracted to you.
A peaceful person attracts peaceful energy.
Criticism of self and others which is not constructive is destructive.
Forgiving is giving to the person most deserving of your kindness - YOU.