Perpetrators have power over you for as long as you are unable or unwilling to forgive. They occupy space in your mind and play with your emotions.
Forgiving wrongs done to you gives you an opportunity to grow and heal. But forgiveness is not simple,it’s a complex process. For some people, professional help is required. Others can do it on their own. Below is a series of steps to help you forgive others. Implementing these ideas may be all you need.
Step 1:Make the decision
It is essential that you first make the decision that you want to forgive the one who injured you. This is a courageous heroic choice.
Step 2: Take responsibility
Realize that it is your responsibilty to heal yourself. No one else can do it for you. Unforgiveness saps your energy and may even make you ill.Studies have shown that heart attacks and cancer can be linked to the retention of anger and resentment.
Step 3: Confront your pain
Journal about your pain and who you want to forgive. Confront and recognize your hurt. Allow someone else to validate your pain;a good friend,partner,pastor or therapist. When you receive empathy and compassion,you can heal faster.
Step 4: Take A New Perspective
Be willing to find a new perspective about the person who wronged you. This is not comdoning the behavior or making excuses for the person. The fact is that people hurt other people because they have been hurt themselves. They act out of their own pain.Ask yourself:
- What was their life like growing up?
- What was their life like at the time of their offense?
These two questions helped me understand my mother’s aggressive tendencies,where she was coming from and why she acted as she did. I was able to forgive her by seperating her from her behavior.
Step 5: Acknowledge your Part
Acknowledge the part you played in the wrong doing if any. This will help move you from being a victim to taking some responsibilty. Forgive yourself for this part.
Step 6: Learn from the pain
Seek to learn from your pain inorder to stop any reoccurrence in the future. Did you gain anything in your life as a result of this pain?
Step 7: The total truth letter
When you are ready,use the Total Truth template and write a letter to the offender. There’s no need to mail it. Express your thoughts clearly and honestly. Starting with your anger. Write about how the offender hurt you. Get mad.Allow yourself to fully express your feelings. Anger is the place to start. Then follow the steps through hurt,fear,regret,and wants for forgiveness. This is where you will find emotional completion.
Step 8: Closure
You can use the letter symbolically to bring closure to the forgiveness cycle. Some people like to bury it or burn it.others like to tear it into pieces and let the wind take it. Create a ceremony that is meaningful to you. Close your eyes and see the link between you and the offender being severed. You are now freed from this memory. Visualize the person you are forgiving being sorrounded by the love of forgiveness.
Step 9:Release Expectations
Let go of any expectations you have for the offender. Forgiveness may not lead to reconciliation.That may be desirable but it is not a requirement. Forgiveness does not depend upon repentance by the offender. In recomciliation,both the victim and the injurer need to be mutually committed and this may not happen. You may not choose to share the fact that you have forgiven him or her,let alone express this in a face-to-face setting. If you do choose to share your forgiveness,check your intentions,making sure they come from love and not pain.
Step 10:Practice Forgiving
Think of forgiveness not so much as an act but a lifestyle. Make a practice of forgiving.As soon as you realize you are injured,forgive. You will feel freer and healthier. Conserve your energy for living rather than wasting it on pain and resentment.
Step 11: Give Thanks
Last but certainly not the least,you can ask God to help you to forgive. He is the great healer and forgiver and is deeply concerned about your wellbeing.
Forget what hurts you in the past but never forget what it taught you. However,if it taught you to hold on to grudges,seek revenge,not to forgive,or show compassion,to categorize people as bad,to distrust and be guarded by your feelings,then you didn’t learn a thing. God doesn’t bring you lessons to close your heart. He brings you lessons to open it. By developing compassion,learning to listen,seeking to understand rather than of speculating,practicing empathy and developing conflict resolution through communication. If he brought you perfect people,how would you ever learn to spiritually evolve- Shannon L.Alder