This original article by Helen Mitas was published in Women with Drive
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Do you have someone in your life that you find hard to forgive? When you think of them, do you mentally replay how and when they hurt you? Life is full of moments when another person’s actions or words are hurtful. The feelings we experience in these moments are deep and can remain with us for a long time.
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Forgive and forget
We are all familiar with the phrase that encourages us to ‘forgive and forget’ but when we cannot forgive, how can we ever forget? When we hold resentment, anger, or hurt towards others, we are left carrying the negative emotions attached to those moments. And holding on to these emotions impacts us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Many people think that forgiving someone means letting them get away with the actions that caused hurt. However, forgiving someone is not really about them; it is all about us.
Forgiveness does not mean we are condoning or accepting the other person’s behaviour. We are just disassociating from it and ‘letting go’ of the hold it has over our energy levels, moods and actions.
Refusing to forgive is like putting ourselves in jail with the person we are upset with and throwing away the key. Emotionally and mentally, we remain in that moment when we felt disempowered, afraid, hurt or neglected. We feel small, helpless and powerless.
While we suffer from these emotions, the person who hurt us feels nothing. In other words, we are harming only ourselves.
Are you ready to forgive?
The first thing to do when you are ready to forgive someone is to ask yourself if you are truly ready to liberate yourself from that person and the action that needs your forgiveness. If your answer is ‘yes’ then you can follow this simple process.
1. Find yourself a quiet place and get comfortable. It is important to set aside this time without interruptions.
2. Give yourself the opportunity to physically relax by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling up your lungs and exhaling through your mouth. Take notice of how that feels. With each breath, allow yourself to relax a little more.
3. Visualise a pleasant or vulnerable image of the person that you would like to forgive. Once you have this vision simply say, “I forgive you” in your mind. Say it a few times and then let go of the hurt.
The forgiveness pyramid
If there are a few people in your life that require forgiveness then begin with the easiest person to forgive and gradually progress towards the most difficult person.
Michelle Beaudry, author of The Forgiveness Pyramid recommends that you forgive the people in your life in the following order:
4. The People Who Hurt You Most
5. Anybody Else-
If you find it difficult to completely forgive someone, you can forgive in stages. It does not have to be an all or nothing approach.
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Once we have truly forgiven, we have the clarity and energy to be present in our lives and use our energy with purpose towards realigning our goals with what we really want in life.