Forgiveness: 7 Steps to Healing After Someone's Hurt You
Human beings are wired to run from pain. It's the way we have survived, but it isn't the way we heal. When we’re hurt, our deepest wounds are triggered. In response, we might run away, numb out, shrink down, turn on ourselves, or lash out in anger.
I will never forgive you for this.
These are biting words from the ego, intended to project our pain onto the person who caused it. They are often spoken in a desperate attempt to reject the circumstances. They show anger, but are birthed from pain.
How could you do this to me?
These are words that fall out of the mouth in disbelief, the outcome of the heart and mind clashing. They are also spoken in an attempt to reject the new reality.
Your capacity for forgiveness is in direct relationship to your own healing.
This doesn't mean that the ability to forgive comes right away. In fact, I'd say that if we're ready to forgive immediately we're likely repressing our true feelings of pain. In contract, when we're unable to forgive after long periods of time we fall into resentment. We hold on to the pain to hurt the other person, and we end up deeply hurting ourselves. As painful as it is, when we're hurt it's an immense opportunity to learn about ourselves.
We are all walking around hurting one another. Sometimes we can’t deal with our own pain so we act unconsciously and, in turn, hurt those we care about. Other times we have to choose to let someone go because their presence in our lives no longer serves us. I have had to release many people throughout my life because we were moving down different paths. Although the way we handle these situations makes a huge difference in the healing process, they both produce pain.
Emotional pain almost always requires us to seek forgiveness, and we have to find it within ourselves.
Forgiveness is a concept that seems to be elusive for many of us, and I think it’s because we’re often trying to understand it with the mind. Here are a few things to consider and practice if you want to learn to forgive:
1. You have to want to forgive
It’s important to acknowledge that refusing to forgive someone hurts us and not the other person. When we feel incapable of forgiving we usually want to hurt the other person the way they’ve hurt us, and it also shows us we’re afraid to let go. The first step to forgiving is seeing that it’s essential for your own healing.
2. remember Everyone is doing the best they can
Most people don’t intentionally hurt others. Those who do are in deep pain themselves. Continuing to come back to this truth is the foundation for forgiveness. It helps us see the person's humanity instead of demonizing them. When I am hurt by someone I don’t allow myself to speak or think negatively about them. Instead I try to understand what would make them make the choices they have made, and even if I can't understand it I work on trusting that they are doing what's best for them.
3. Accept that you can only control you
This is a Free Will Zone Universe. We can't make people do what they don't want to. Notice if your pain is coming from the desire to control someone else. Do you want them to do what you think is best? Maybe you're in pain because they went back on their word or changed their mind. When we feel pain in relationship to another person we often feel disempowered. Bring the awareness back to yourself, where you can grow, how you can learn about yourself through this situation. Even if it’s just 1% of you that is to blame. Look at that part. You can only control you. Choose who you want to be instead of focusing on how someone else isn't who you want them to be.
4. Send love and light
Once you’re able to hold the above perspectives you can begin to act on your pain. One technique I like is to send the person who has hurt me love and light. I sit in meditation, and then I imagine the person’s heart opening and their body radiating with light and love. A friend of mine uses another powerful technique where you imagine the person standing in front of you, your heart sending them love, and them sending you even more love back. It’s a great exercise for you to understand that love is abundant. If you give love it comes back to you even more. Your love is unlimited. If you haven't yet recognized points 1-3 this step is not going to feel authentic and might end up creating anger.
5. Say it out loud
When I need to forgive someone I say the words out loud as often as possible, “I forgive you, NAME.” I imagine them being completely happy and at peace with themselves, which is what I ultimately want for every human being. At first you might feel a lot of resistance if you’re holding onto the pain tightly. Over time you’ll begin to feel yourself allowing forgiveness to occur. The words flow more easily. You’ll feel lighter as you say it. You can also imagine your heart opening as you say the words, and you can send the person love while you’re reciting the mantra. Consistency is key here. A great time to work with this is whenever they pop into your head and give you a queasy or angry feeling.
6. Let them go
The resistance to forgiveness is caused because we’re refusing to release pain. Our minds will focus on the situation repeatedly. Sometimes we will day dream about the person or stalk them on Facebook. During these times I will say out loud, “I release you, NAME.” There is a healthy part of healing and processing pain, but there is also the obsessive mind that wants to hold on and relive all of the negativity. When my mind goes to the painful situation I ask myself whether or not this is serving me. Because I love myself I want only the best for me so it's the question that helps me release and move on. When it’s not serving you, bring the focus back to you, allow yourself to let go, and focus on the amazing life you deserve.
7. forgiveness is a process
Sometimes the pain feels so deep that we can’t imagine how we can ever forgive. It’s important to remember that forgiveness is a process. Healing is a process. We make progress. We think we’ve forgiven, and suddenly we’re in a place of pain again. It’s ok. Begin the process of forgiveness all over again. Let it be.
Although we’d rather live pain-free lives, these experiences are huge opportunities for our own growth if we allow them to be. When we decide to process our pain, to reflect on ourselves, and to release those who have hurt us, we make tremendous leaps in our own transformation.