Forgiveness – A Lighter You
Forgiveness is a big part of living fully. There are mistakes in all relationships including our relationship with ourselves and we need to be able to forgive in order to release negative energy and be at our best. Not necessarily easy, however.
In order to come to a new relationship with some freedom, it is important to look at what needs to be forgiven in your past relationships. The cost of not forgiving is fairly high. When we do not forgive, we tend to develop vulnerable spots where we carry past experiences into our present and darken the waters of our relationships when we do not need to. This person whom we say is in our past stays in our present when there are issues of non forgiveness.
We often see our present by looking through the lenses of our past. We can be triggered by the hurt of these past issues. Then we react in a big way, out of proportion to the present. By bringing the past into the present, it is hard for us to see clearly when our current partner may be innocent of our issue. For instance, if part of the break down of your past relationship included issues of cheating or infidelity, when you have a momentary sense of insecurity in your relationship you may be triggered. You may become suspicious of your partner and react negatively to him or her, reliving those same feelings of betrayal when your partner may be entirely innocent. Or a less extreme example may be that your partner was more a saver and you were more a spender in your relationship. When your new partner talks about wanting to save for a holiday before spending or keeping a car until it no longer drives, your freedom of spending self may be triggered once again.
In becoming free of the past, it is important to take an inventory of our wounds and really come to know what we are forgiving. Sometimes the words for our wounds are pretty big, such as emotionally loaded words like “betrayal”. Use them when necessary, in understanding your wounds. To forgive without understanding your wound means you are shoving the wrong that was done to you under the carpet where you trip over it in your next relationship. Remember forgiveness is not making a wrong become a right. The wrong remains a wrong which is why we only have forgiveness in order to be free.
Forgiveness is a head decision, not a felt decision. It is not dependent on the other person wanting forgiveness or feeling any kind of remorse. It is not even dependent on whether the person you are forgiving is someone who will repeat the offense. That is a matter of boundaries for you and may be that you no longer have this person in your life but forgiveness is still necessary. This is about your freedom.
Once you understand the wound and its consequences to you, you then make a decision to no longer hold the offense against the person. Remember that forgiveness is not a one time event but a process. You may have to remind yourself that you have forgiven the offender as the offense comes to your mind. Do not entertain the offense in your mind again, once you have chosen to forgive. This means that you must be very sure you are ready to forgive before you do it. You will be set free as you do this for your past.
Here are the steps again in this simple format:
- Look at your relationship (family, friends, partners) history. Look at each relationship and see whether anything needs to be let go.
- Take anything you find and write out what you understand the wounds to be, the affect on you and the hurt and consequences you feel you have leftover, possibly affecting you even today.
- When you know you have done that to the best of your ability, ask yourself if you are ready to forgive these offenses and become free of them.
- Remind yourself of your own need for forgiveness in relationship over time.
- When ready, make a thoughtful decision to no longer hold that offense against your relationship figure (mark the date on your page of wounds). When you think of that person, it will not be through the lens of their offense.
- When that offense comes up again in your mind, do not allow yourself to entertain it. Remind yourself that you are no longer holding that offense against that person.
Okay, now for another hard part and that is to forgive yourself. Notice these relationships again and see where you failed as a person in this relationship. Write out the failure, acknowledging your offense or what you failed to do. Understand that it is human to fail and to learn from it. You have been given a new day today and it is up to you to forgive yourself and to move away from the baggage. If you have a faith that has been important to you, seek forgiveness from God or a priest or a representative of a priest such as a spiritual director or a trustworthy friend. Walk in this day, knowing you have been forgiven and will learn the lesson that the failure provided. Make a commitment to yourself to learn and practice a new path in relationship.
Remember that forgiveness allows us to create space to let go and to love. The steps to forgiving yourself:
- Write out the relationship failure, acknowledging your offense or what you failed to do.
- Put yourself in the other’s shoes and try to empathize how they may have felt.
- Understand that it is human to fail and to take the opportunity to learn from it.
- You have been given a new day today and it is up to you to forgive yourself and to move away from the baggage. Write this day’s date to remind yourself of your choice to forgive yourself and leave this baggage behind.
- If it is appropriate, ask for forgiveness from the other. If you have a faith that has been important to you, seek forgiveness from God or a priest or a representative of a priest such as a spiritual director or other.
- Walk in this day, knowing you have been forgiven and will learn the lesson that the failure provided. Make a commitment to yourself to learn and practice a new path in relationship.
Hope you have found this helpful! Go forth and Be Wonderful!