How can you forgive your husband for cheating? Your wife for lying to you? Your body for not cooperating and achieving pregnancy?
Forgiveness is a key ingredient when it comes to moving past suffering. Holding on to a grudge and not forgiving may cause more damage than you think in that emotional and physical well-being are interrelated.
I want to make it clear that the process of forgiveness does not need to involve the other individual who wronged you. While you can meet with them or even write them a letter, if they are not ready to apologize, the meeting may not feel helpful for you. For the moment, just concentrate on keeping the process of forgiveness in your heart and mind.
When you work on forgiveness there is no one forgiveness process that works for each person. When a client comes into my NYC office I work closely with them to identify the cause of their pain and together we uncover their way to releasing the negative feelings and ties to the anger. We then explore the following ideas that hopefully result in a sense of forgiveness. Your path may follow these steps or it may flow to other places.
- In detail, exactly why are you angry? Was it a specific incident? Be as specific as possible.
- Tap into each of the emotions related to the hurt.
- Acknowledge any part of the problem that you contributed to.
- Think about reasons why the individual may have acted that way. Are they hurting and lashing out, did they seek revenge, are they wounded in some way?
- Can they make the situation better in some way as you move forward?
- Time to let go an actually forgive them. Just saying I forgive you is a good first step.
- Remember, forgiveness is not the same as forgetting. You don’t have to forget to forgive.
Again, this does not need to be a conversation with another person, they do not even need to know you are forgiving them at all. You can do this work in the privacy of my office or by yourself in a way that brings closure to your pain.
You will find that as you go through the six steps, sometimes over and over, you will be able to release at deeper levels. For deep wounds the process takes time and it does not occur all at once. One usually experiences waves of remembering and pain but over time, these lessen. The more you face the feelings and look at the other person through their own hurt and actions, the more you will be able to release it.
Forgiveness is not an easy path to walk and I applaud you for just exploring the possibility. Working together we can work through your feelings towards the actions of others and get you to a more peaceful and forgiving place.