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 someone hurts us it’s often because it hits a part of ourselves that is in need of our own love. Because most of us don’t know how to generate our own love we go into survival mode when we’re hurt. We might run away, numb out, shrink down, or lash out in anger.
I will never forgive you for this.
These are biting words from the ego, intended to propel our pain onto the person who we believe caused it. They are often spoken in a desperate attempt to reject our circumstances. They express anger and 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 reality.
For most of us, forgiveness doesn't arrive quickly.
And that's OK. In fact, I might go as far to say that if we're ready to forgive immediately we might be repressing our pain and convincing ourselves we’ve forgiven because it’s what we’re supposed to do.
In contrast, when we're unable to forgive after long periods of time we often carry resentment. Resentment says that you are wrong and bad, and I am good and victimized (yes, sometimes we are truly victimized).
Forgiveness if your gift to yourself. It is about you letting go and choosing not to allow another to have power over you.
I have loved people who have broken my heart. Some of them were lovers and others were friends. In most cases I used anger to protect my heart. I turned them into a villain, cut them out, and kept it moving.
Then one day someone broke my heart, and it was different. This time my soul stepped in and said, "Nope. We're not doing it that way anymore. It's time to face the truth." So I did, and I learned how much it can hurt to heal and how much more it can hurt not to.
We’re 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’ve 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 can both be painful.
Forgiveness is something we have to find 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
No one can force you to forgive, and it’s something that you have to reckon with yourself. How much longer do you want to hold onto your pain? It is a choice you get to make for yourself, and you do have a choice. Sometimes it’s scary to release an emotion we’ve gotten really comfortable with. To process your anger and fear work with this breathing meditation and recognize that forgiveness is a gift to yourself.
2. remember that 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 helps us see each person's humanity instead of demonizing the one who has hurt us. 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. Just like we don’t want others to control us, 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 and see where you can grow. How you can learn about yourself through this situation? There is always something you can take responsibility for—even if it’s just 1%.
Taking responsibility for what you can control is empowering.
4. Send love
Once you’re able to hold the above perspectives you can begin the forgiveness process. One technique I like is to send the person who has hurt me love. I sit in meditation, and then I imagine the person’s heart opening and their body radiating with 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.
Note: If you haven't yet worked through 1-3 this step is not going to feel authentic and might end up causing 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, and the words will flow more easily.
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 you notice a physical reaction in your body.
6. Let them go
The resistance to forgiveness is caused because we’re reticent to release pain or we’re more interested in being right then in setting ourselves free. Our minds will focus on the situation repeatedly. Sometimes we day dream about the person or stalk them on social media. During these times say out loud, “I release you, NAME.”
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 move on. When it’s not serving you, bring the focus back to you, be willing 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 healing is a process. I have a chapter in my book called, "Forgiveness Makes Me Want To Throw Up." I needed to focus on me during that time and wasn't ready to forgive my ex.
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 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.
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