Does the thought of forgiveness seem impossible?
Have you ever hung onto resentment for months, even years?
Ever tell yourself that you know you should forgive someone, but they hurt you so much that hating them feels so much better?
Or maybe you think true forgiveness is only for saints.
If any of these statements resonate with you, hang on, my friend, cause I got some excellent ways for you to master forgiveness so you can live a much more free and empowered life!
How to Forgive
People often say ‘just forgive them,’ like it is as easy as having tea with a friend. Even if forgiveness seems unreachable for you right now, deep down, you know you are not getting anywhere by hanging onto unforgiveness.
You are only hurting yourself, again and again.
The act of forgiveness can be broken down into small bite-sized pieces. It is a process that requires appropriate steps of engagement for success. Forgiveness is possible and is worth engaging in because your health and wellbeing depend on it.
The Journey to Forgiveness
Phase One: Getting Ready
1) Are you READY to forgive?
First, you need the right environment to forgive in, and you need to be ready to want to forgive. Some people enjoy hanging onto unforgiveness and bashing the people who hurt them because they seem to think that they are somehow getting back at them.
Unforgiveness is self-punishment. Plain and simple.
Some people try to forgive before they are ready. Before forgiving genuinely, be sure you have had a proper anger release? If someone hurts you, you need to release all those feelings first.
Did you let yourself feel the hurt and pain? If so, that is good. You have to identify with the damage, the pain and the sting before you are even close to being ready to forgive.
Maybe you have been feeling stuck in negative feelings far too long, and you genuinely don’t see any other options or any way out. If you have been allowing yourself to stay stuck for a long time, ask yourself, “Why are you willing to suffer for so long? What payoff are you getting from this?
Forgiveness is all about being kind and loving to yourself.
(If you experienced an event or trauma that is too enormous for you to work through on your own, seek professional help from an expert).
2) Work through Your Anguish
it is important to move to a point where you see the benefit of moving past the incident. Often that means you hit rock bottom, and you are tired of feeling miserable.
It doesn’t mean you are ignoring or burying what happened to you; you are ready for the next step. Instead, it says it doesn’t trigger you into tears or violent anger anymore. The pain might still be there, but it is manageable, and you are not triggered by it anymore.
Whatever happened to you has likely happened to others, and people do move on; it is possible and essential for your spiritual health.
If you try to forgive someone or something before you are ready, it will be counterproductive and make you feel worse. So take the time to prepare, release, let go, feel and heal.
3) Understand that People are not Perfect, They Make Mistakes and So Do You
All people, everyone, make mistakes. No one is perfect. Everybody has a reason for being and doing what they do. Right or wrong, that’s a fact!
If someone has hurt you, be open to the fact that there was a reason for them doing what they did. Now, this reason may not have been good, ethical, or even right, but take all that out of the equation for the moment. Try to see this from a non-personal point of view.
The truth is, there is a reason why people do things. It doesn’t matter at this point if it was right or wrong. They had/have their motives, and they are not perfect.
4) No One is Perfect, Not Even You
An equally important step in healing and forgiving is to realize that you are not perfect either. Ok, I know someone did something terrible to you; perhaps it is so awful you can’t ever imagine releasing it. Yet if you want to heal and move on, you have to be open to a way out of the deadlock.
You have to change the way you are thinking about it.
I’m sure there are things in your past that you did to others that hurt them, and you probably regret it deeply – or you may not even be aware of it. I am not trying to make light of what happened to you, but just trying to get you to see that none of us are perfect. And we all have our reasons, known or not, for doing what we do.
Accept that you, too, are not perfect.
We learn by making mistakes, and every error is a valuable learning and healing experience. Time to move beyond the drama of who did what, where and why; it was her or his fault. That will never get anyone anywhere. So let’s agree on one thing:
We are all wrong, and we are all right.
This understanding helps us to be prepared and clears the path to allow forgiveness to be possible. We also know that the people involved, including ourselves, are not perfect, and everyone makes mistakes.
5) Accepting People for Who They are, Including Accepting Yourself
Keep the new momentum going! Pray for yourself and for those who hurt you. You can do and say whatever you like as you engage with your heart and real feelings.
Try not to get too specific about what happened to you or how you were hurt. If you are not entirely disconnected from the ‘old hurting story’ yet, you could risk going back into self-defeating dialogue. At this point, however, you should be safe, providing you have done all the other groundwork. You should be feeling ready to take the next step.
You Can Change only You, not them.
Remind yourself that you have to accept people for who they are fully and completely, so try not to focus on the other people in your story at all. Focus only on your healing. This way, you take full ownership of your healing, which is very empowering.
If you have experienced trauma with another person, try to see them as a person trying to live their life as best they can, just like you. Acknowledge them as people.
You are aware and acknowledge that you can’t change anything other than your own thoughts and beliefs. This understanding is potent and worth spending some time on. If you feel any resistance, back up a little and find ideas that will soothe you and help you to feel better, and allow you to accept and stay open with your heart.
6) Shifting the Old Energy
Let your heart and feelings guide you in the best direction forward. Maybe you need to apologize to someone you hurt? Perhaps it is time to write a heartfelt letter? Could be you don’t need to do anything? The very fact that you feel better means you have shifted your energy for the better, and you have the release you so desired. Well done!
Now, wait and see what comes up.
Phase Two: You are Now Ready to Go Deeper
7) Radical Forgiveness
To shift into a completely new experience, I like to refer to the incredible work done by Colin Tipping, a radical forgiveness expert.
Colin Tipping created a forgiveness program called Radical Forgiveness. He knew that it had to be an easy, quick, step by step process and not involve a lot of therapy.
Here are the stages he maps out in his program:
- Tell the story (already outlined above).
- Allow yourself to feel the feelings; this is very strong in the program, you can’t heal what you don’t feel, so this is the victim’s story (already outlined above).
- Start with the victim’s story, then you walk in the other person’s shoes. You are not letting them off the hook, we know they did something wrong, but we are trying to understand it. (explained above)
- Conventional forgiveness doesn’t go here. So we need “the reframe.”
8) The Reframe
It starts with knowing that things happen for a reason, and there are no exceptions to this. You understand that this was all part of a Divine Plan. Your soul wanted this experience, so it set you up to have it. It brought people into your life to experience this because there is fundamentally nothing to forgive because nothing ‘wrong’ happened.
If you are open to this idea, it will shift your energy, and you will feel different. You will be able to connect with peace within yourself.
9) Reach for forgiveness
Forgiveness can happen like a light bulb moment and is complete and concerns everyone and everything all at the same time. Or it can be felt slowly and gradually. For example, you may first forgive the people who have hurt you; then, you forgive yourself for anything you may have done, such as perpetuating negative thoughts. Then you forgive all people involved who may have had some role in the drama.
Forgiveness is complete. You will know if you have genuinely attained forgiveness when it flows outward like a warm cozy flood of positive emotion towards everyone concerned. When experienced fully, it no longer becomes something you have to do, but instead, it is an acceptance of what is and a conscious intention to change the energy to something more positive.
From this place, beautiful things will occur.
10) Forgiveness in Family, Friendships or Relationships
If you feel led to apologize or seek forgiveness from someone else, be aware that they may not accept this act of forgiveness or kindness from you. That is fine; it isn’t about the other person; it is about you. So again, don’t beat yourself up if your forgiveness is not accepted. Extend your forgiveness, whether it is taken or not.
When you forgive, you in no way change the past.
But you sure do change the future.
The Power of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is the most powerful thing we can do for another person and ourselves.
Full forgiveness wipes away all the hurt and negative stories about the pain, which allows you to connect better with who you are. You are not your story; not your pain; you are so much more than this! Now you can start to be who you are!
Do you think you can forgive someone for some horrific act they did against you? Can you allow yourself to be open to the miraculous healing of forgiving?
The power of forgiveness is real. Once you forgive someone, it immediately wipes away the disempowering story about that person, and it opens your heart to acceptance and love.