The Process of Forgiveness: Part Two
In the first part of The Process of Forgiveness (which can be read here) I talked about how one can begin the often difficult process of forgiveness. In this part I'm going to give you some pointers which helped me in my process. There are many different methods and I'm just giving you the tip of the iceberg. We'll visit this subject in future posts but for now give these a try. Hopefully one will resonate with you.
First of all, on a scale of 1 - 10 how severe was the grievance? If it's anything less than a three you really should be letting go and moving on. If it’s 4 or higher then review your grievance in detail. This gives you an opportunity to go into as much detail as possible and will perhaps help you to remember something you’d forgotten. This will most likely adjust the severity of the grievance. More importantly though it will give you an understanding as to why they did it; if you can understand *why* then maybe it’ll be easier to forgive. Be warned though, you may find that it was done maliciously and this can be very upsetting. If that happens then try one or all of the following:
1. Affirm out loud that you release any grip or control this past event has over you.
2. Imagine what your life will feel like without the grievance that has been haunting you.
3. Make amends with someone you’ve wronged.
4. Forgive yourself. To do this look in the mirror and say to the reflection “I forgive you. I love you.” Do this as many times as you can in the space of two minutes (or longer) and do it every time you see your reflection. I feel the need to forgive oneself is equally important because we’ve all done things we regret. We’ve all made mistakes and all hurt people (inadvertently or otherwise). Therefore I believe that the biggest act of self love you can do is to forgive yourself. This then permeates into being able to forgive others. I am very aware of how awkward this can be, but do please try it and persevere with it; it'll pay dividends.
5. Ask for help from a higher power. Have a conversation with them. Keep your heart open and your ears listening as you’ll always get the help you need. The higher power can be anything you like: God, Buddha, an Angel, the Universe, A Spirit Guide...or even yourself. The act of vocalising and conversing can work wonders. Just make sure you're alone so you a) don't get distracted and b) people don't think you're crazy!
6. Be patient. Healing takes time and that’s what forgiveness is - healing. You may well meet with resistance (from within) but don’t stop trying. The more you do it the easier it gets.
7. Stop blaming others and yourself. Focus on you and allow the experience to unfold. Remember no one has the power to make you feel uneasy without your consent so let it go.
I forgive you. I love you.
Look at the grievance in a new way. Maybe write the story of the event out but from the other person’s perspective, or perhaps in the third person as an observer. Seeing yourself as just one of the characters in the story may bring a change in perception. Maybe something you said or did triggered the other person to behave in this way? If you do this exercise you may find that your dreams will tell you something about the situation so keep a sleepy eye out. This is a method that is featured in The Forgiveness Book:Healing The Hurts We Don't Deserve by D. Patrick Miller. You can purchase a kindle version through Amazon here.
Imagine the person you want to forgive is sitting opposite you in the empty chair. Talk to the person as if they were there. Reflect on how you felt during the process and afterwards. This is a very powerful tool and is based on Gestalt Therapy.
Try and view the world and people around you with more compassion. If you can stop judging people by your own standards, or indeed stop judging period, you’ll find your stress levels will decrease and your positivity will increase! When this happens, forgiveness comes easier. Just be kind…not right; remember your truth could be different to the truth another has.
The more positive you are the easier it is to forgive. Keep a gratitude diary and make sure you fill in at least three things that you’re grateful for everyday.
One last thought on forgiveness. Very often a person isn’t aware that they’ve done anything that actually requires forgiveness, so to go up to them or write to them and tell them that you’ve forgiven them may not have the desired effect and in fact could open a can of worms or a Pandora’s Box. Conversely, if a person is aware of their misdemeanour you’ll have to work hard on yourself to start the forgiveness process. Remember, forgiving someone is about YOU not them. You owe it to yourself to forgive them so that any control they indirectly have over you through your not forgiving them, is relinquished. Also, if they are aware of what they’ve done, you need to let them go as well as the grudge…after all do you really want to be around someone who makes you feel bad?