Forgiveness can be incredibly difficult.Sometimes the hurt is very deep, such as when a spouse or a parent betrays our trust, or when we are victims of crime, or when we’ve been harshly bullied. Anyone who has suffered a grievous hurt knows that when our inner world is badly disrupted, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than our turmoil or pain. When we hold on to hurt, we are emotionally and cognitively hobbled, and our relationships suffer.
Forgiveness is strong medicine for this. When life hits us hard, there is nothing as effective as forgiveness for healing deep wounds.Below are steps involved in following a path of forgiveness:
HOW TO FORGIVE AND FORGET.
Step 1: Acknowledge
Acknowledge the hurt. Who hurt you and why did they do it? What is the context of the situation, and how long ago did this happen?
Step 2: Consider
Consider how the hurt and pain has affected you. The word “consider” is key here because it involves thinking before making a decision. Before you decide on whether or not you will forgive this person, consider the negative feelings you’ve acquired since the incident.How has the pain changed you? How detrimental was the person’s mistake to your life or someone else?
Step 3: Accept
Accept that you cannot change the past. No matter how much you wish this pain could be reversed, it’s time to admit to yourself that your anger toward the person won’t redeem what they have done. It is during this step that you must thoughtfully consider whether or not you want to forgive.
Step 4: Determine
Determine whether or not you will forgive. This is when the forgiveness process will either begin or end. This decision should not be made lightly, as it will determine the future of your relationship with this person.
Step 5: Repair
Repair the relationship with the person who wronged you. Before any an act of forgiveness or reconciliation, rebuild the connection you used to have with this person.In most cases, you will be the instigator of this repairing, but if you have thoughtfully engaged in the previous 4 steps, then there is a higher chance of success.
Note that you are repairing the relationship, not restoring it. It will likely take more time for the relationship to return to normal, whatever that may look like to you. Acts of repairing can include kind words, simple gestures or even gifts.
Step 6: Learn
Learn what forgiveness means to you. Up until now, you’ve probably thought that forgiveness is more for their benefit, not yours.But once the relationship is on the path to restoration, and you’ve given yourself time to accept the reality of the past, it’s clear that forgiveness is a way for you to find closure. Closure that means something.
Step 7: Forgive yourself
Most of us tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others and we struggle to love ourselves. If you are not feeling lovable because of actions you’ve taken, you may need to work on self-forgiveness and offer to yourself what you offer to others who have hurt you: a sense of inherent worth, despite your actions.
After you have been able to self-forgive, you will also need to engage in seeking forgiveness from others whom you’ve harmed and right the wrongs as best as you can. It’s important to be prepared for the possibility that the other person may not be ready to forgive you and to practice patience and humility. But, a sincere apology, free of conditions and expectations, will go a long way toward your receiving forgiveness in the end.
Step 8: Forgive others
Forgive the person who wronged you. In some cases, this will be silent.You may be compelled to verbally forgive the person, even if you do not expect a kind response, but if you have followed through on the previous steps, then their reaction won’t really matter. What will matter is that you have found a way to let go and move on.
Step 9: Develop a forgiving heart
When we overcome suffering, we gain a more mature understanding of what it means to be humble, courageous, and loving in the world. We may be moved to create an atmosphere of forgiveness in our homes and workplaces, to help others who’ve been harmed overcome their suffering, or to protect our communities from a cycle of hatred and violence. All of these choices can lighten the heart and bring joy to one’s life.
Some people may believe that love for another who’s harmed you is not possible. But, I’ve found that many people who forgive eventually find a way to open their hearts. If you shed bitterness and put love in its place, and then repeat this with many, many other people, you become freed to love more widely and deeply. This kind of transformation can create a legacy of love that will live on long after you’re gone.