Trust me this is going to be a tough one. You will be challenged, but the aftermath is worth it. In the 7th step to finding your H-Factor we learn how to forgive. The reason this is so difficult is because usually there is some pain or hurt behind the forgiveness. It’s tough to let it go, but holding onto the pain will be a constant reminder that can be detrimental to your life. When we learn to forgive ourselves, family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers we almost always find ourselves in a happier place.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” –Mahatma Ghandi
I think it is safe to say that everyone has been hurt before. Whether we’ve have experienced a heart- break, trauma or a social injustice, the way we handle it will be individualized and unique. Sure it’s easy to write off the person who has caused us pain and suffering. The complicated part arrives when a person we truly care for makes a mistake and that mistake hurts. What if that was the only time they caused pain and it was not intentional? Chances are we would react by shutting them out because that’s the easy way to deal with it. Except what if that person was a best friend or relative? How would we handle it?
It is normal and expected to get upset if someone hurts us. But looking at the bigger picture, is it worth shutting them out of our lives forever? In some situations it makes sense to extricate another from our lives but other instances are not so cut and dry. I’m not suggesting that we allow ourselves to be walked on by friends, family or colleagues. But what I’m saying is people make mistakes. We all do. The ability to forgive ourselves and others when mistakes are made is a gift that can unbind and release us from our misery and needless suffering.
We have all heard the saying, “forgive but never forget”, well this is true because by doing so we are moving to a better place. We cannot control the past nor fix what has happened, but we can learn radical acceptance to just let it be and focus on a brighter present and future. Forgiveness is tool to release the forgiver, not the perpetrator, from an invisible bondage that keeps us stuck, miserable and robbed of joy because we are residing in anger, judgment and resentment.
Here are some practical techniques to begin a forgiveness practice:
- Commit To Forgiving. As I said before this is not an easy task that can be accomplished out of the blue. This is something that will take time. Whenever you hear yourself bringing up or thinking about the person that caused the hurt, stop and think of the time they were there for you when you really needed it or think about them not possessing the skill, intelligence or awareness to act differently.
- Understand Your Responsibility. Ask yourself what could you have done in order for the problem to not happen? Was there a way you could have prevented this from occurring? In many cases, the issue may entail devastating trauma where we were truly victimized and we were powerless over what happened to us. In this situation, we must forgive our judgment of ourselves that we could have somehow done things differently to avoid the incident. Things happen and we do not always have control.
- You Have A Choice. The truth is that we cannot control other people’s actions and thoughts, but we can control our own. By consciously not focusing on re-living the situation and how badly we were injured by it is a step in the right direction. Instead start moving on. We humans are strong and resilient. Forgiveness is a choice that can set us free from the invisible shackles that imprison us.
TAKE OUT A PEN AND NOTEPAD, WRITE DOWN 3 PEOPLE’S NAMES WHO HAVE HURT YOU IN THE PAST. NOW, THINK ABOUT EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW YOU COULD HAVE PREVENTED IT FROM HAPPENING AND WRITE IT DOWN. FINALLY, LET ALL THE HURT OUT ON THE PAPER AND MOVE ON BY BURNING THE PAPER IN A RESPONSIBLY LIT FIRE OR EVEN TEARING IT TO BITS THEN FLUSH IT DOWN THE TOILET.