We all make mistakes. You will make them and the people around you will make them – it’s inevitable. But how we deal with our mistakes can have a profound impact on our quality of life.
Looking back on the wrongs done to you, can cause intense feelings of pain, guilt, anger, resentment or even fear. Hanging on to these feelings can have a significant and negative impact on your life. In many cases, the only way to move forward from past mistakes is to choose to forgive your loved ones, acquaintances, yourself or even strangers who have (deliberately or unintentionally) erred.
Whether you choose to ‘forgive and forget’ or ‘forgive but never forget’, the act of forgiveness is primarily for and about you. By forgiving, you are setting yourself free from past pain and anger and choosing happiness over resentment.
What does Forgiveness Mean?
In essence, forgiveness involves releasing the feelings of antipathy and bitterness over past events and abandoning any need for retribution. Forgiveness does not mean we excuse or justify what occurred. Instead, we let go of the past and choose to live in the present.
How to Forgive Others
If you’ve been hurt by others, you don’t need to keep suffering. You have the power to forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing. It doesn’t matter whether the perpetrators have changed or regret their actions. The process is not about them but is about healing yourself and releasing harmful resentment.
1. Face the pain:
You do not need to forgive the other person. However, you may find yourself fixated on how you have been wronged. Forgiveness is another option. This does not mean forgetting. Acknowledge and make room for the distress you feel.
2. Let go of anger and sadness:
Regardless of how justified your anger is, identify ways to help you discard the bitterness. Notice how you get sucked into reflecting about how you were wronged.
3. Remember and acknowledge:
Allow yourself to recall what happened to you – consider writing it down.
4. Show compassion:
In many cases, the person who hurt you did not set out to do this. They may have been selfish or self-involved but usually, the harm is not malicious. Practice empathy.
5. Imagine the feeling of forgiveness:
Think about how free you will feel when you rid yourself of resentment. Repeat forgiveness affirmations “I fully and freely forgive ______________, and I am now released.”
6. Visualise confrontation:
Picture the person standing in front of you – explain the hurt they have caused and let them acknowledge the pain. Tell them you forgive them.
7. Value your experience:
There is power in forgiveness. Accept that letting go of animosity can transform your life.
8. Question if you want to keep punishing yourself:
Do you really want to give someone this power over you? Forgiveness releases you and gives you back control of your emotions.
9. Consider prevention:
Sometimes there is intent to cause you harm. Identify potential toxic situations (or people) and seek ways to keep yourself physically and psychologically safe.
When you forgive, it is easier to be fully present and productive in life. If you would like help with forgiveness and letting go, call Wellbeing Therapy Space on 1300 208 680 or contact us online.
Author: Claire Mansveld of Hey Zeus! Creative and edited by Rebecca Dallard
Photo: by Nazar Hrabovyi of Unsplash