Not an easy topic isn’t it ? Rancor can be intense and still deep. I personally very well know how it can be as I have experienced it many times in my life. And it goes from a cheating ex-boyfriend, to a two-faced friend or a difficult coworker/client or even abuse in childhood by a stranger. Even myself. Things I have done to myself and to others as slight as it can be like a clumsy sentence. But I have healed all these wounds today. It took me a few years though and I can say that there is definitely a “before” and an “after” the day I decided – and was ready to do so – to forgive. I’m pretty sure I will have to face it again in the future but you know what ? It’s OK : I know what to do now :).
So, How to forgive someone who’s hurt you ? We tend to think that “forgive” means erasing everything that happened, forget or even approving something that actually hurts us. However, forgiveness is something else. It is more about changing our way of thinking. Setting aside our ego and propensity to reprisals. And then take a step back and look at our wounds.
Why forgive ?
In fact, forgiveness is more about ourselves than others. Resentment and anger are a kind of self punishment. Therefore, forgiving is actually a kindness to ourselves. To liberate from tension.
Freeing ourselves from the negative bond to a situation, a person or even ourselves.
It also helps us reconnect with others, open ourselves and gives us back the will to reach out for others with more confidence. A 75-year-old Harvard study directed by the psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, has demonstrated that good relationships make us happier and in good shape. They protect the body, mind and memory and enhance overall health. Good news is : what matters is not the quantity of relationships you have but their quality.
Want second good news ?
It is actually less difficult to forgive than we think. We can forgive someone without even having to communicate with him. Without even having to notice him…
Now, do you feel like trying ? It is nothing but mental training.
Let’s give it a try…
Relax yourself. Find a quiet place, if you can. Clear your environment and remove any distraction as much as possible.
Feel your lungs inflating when inhaling. Feel your lungs shrinking when exhaling.
Now. Remember a situation where you’ve been hurt, emotionally. A comment that annoyed you. At home, at work, at a family dinner or elsewhere… Nothing too impacting but sufficient to make you feel uncomfortable. Focus on one person only, if many have been hurting you. Visualize it as if you were back there. Maybe you had too much feelings towards that person or what has been said to you or what has been done to you.
What triggered that feeling inside you ?
What event precisely ?
Take a situation to which you feel alright to reconnect with. Don’t force yourself to live a situation to which a lot still going on emotionally. Be kind to yourself, don’t rush.
If you feel like it, pay attention to what is happening in your body, inside.
Where do you feel that wound ? In your stomach, your chest, your throat maybe ?
How did it impact you ?
How does this still impact you today ?
Welcome all the feelings that may pop out. Even if it feels a little uncomfortable. Welcome them as they were messengers that were coming to tell you something.
What about now ?
Now if you agree, let’s look at it from a different perspective. Let’s try a wiser angle. How would you have liked to feel at that very moment ? And after that moment ? Ideally, what emotions would you have wanted to feel ?
Are you able to see that person a bit differently now ?
If we consider your relationship starting from the very beginning, what that person have brought you, before or after that moment ?
Do you remember some of her qualities regardless of what happened ? Even if it is as little as a helping hand once or a period of peace between you both ?
Open yourself for a moment. Try to overcome your differences. Contemplate the very likely fact that you both desire to be free from injuries of all kinds.
Note now if you see your relationship with that person a bit differently. Your feelings must have varied during the reading of this article. Note what is going on inside. How does this feeling convert into your body ?
What you have been feeling for the past 10 minutes is it helping you understand better the difficult situation you’ve experienced ?
Now. Ask yourself how you could forgive that person.
Don’t force yourself, just observe the physical sensations that are raised while asking that very last question. Be curious about it.
To finish, consider that we are all humans, all beautifully imperfect 🙂
That being a human means that nothing is ever static, everything can change and evolve.
Nothing is irreparable despite what we sometimes think. Connect yourself with this humanity by giving the right to the other to be human. Grant him the right to make mistakes.
Stay a little more with this current feeling. Stay curious and attentive.
I hope after this quick ride you will feel now a bit more positive, relieved. Maybe even now closer to forgiveness.
No doubt it takes time to forgive.
Just keep this in mind : 5 positive things for 1 negative thing. Indeed, according to a study, when a negative thing is said or done in a relationship, one must do or hear more than 5 positive things to ensure one’s well being. Cultivate our capacity to cultivate positive thoughts is very important. It is thus real easy and common to be hurt in a relationship and struggling to get over it. You don’t always get the 5 positive things that you need to re balance. But knowing that fact is a step towards your healing journey.
Don’t hesitate to repeat this exercise as many times as needed.
To go further…
Writing down all things down can help a lot. If you feel like it, I would like to share another exercise that I find very valuable. I invite you to write this very week a letter in which you forgive yourself.
Then write a second letter to forgive the other person for what he did to you. You won’t have to send this letter to anyone, you will be writing for you only.
Here are 5 steps to help you write it out :
- Describe what happened exactly
- Detail how that has affected you
- Couch what you would have the other person do
- Put yourself in the other’s shoes and describe how he must have felt
- End with a declaration of understanding and forgiveness
Take your time to write that letter and try to follow these very 5 steps.
If this technique sounds right to you, and above all if you find it effective : I can do no other than encourage you to redo this for all difficult situations that your are facing or will face in the future.
I will finish this post by a question I would like you to ask yourself :
What if forgiveness was the key to live a fulfilled life ? 🙂
References : www.petitbambou.com
Founder of happyethics.com