How To Forgive
By Michelle Beaudry
The past cannot be undone. What you can change is how you feel about it. But how are you going to do it? You're all done feeling wretched all the time, you know "forgive does not mean forget," you are soooo ready, but you need a plan. Read on, my friend, and find out how to get the benefits of forgiveness for yourself.
Guilt and Hatred Are Killers
Ask any doctor. Stress is a killer. This is because your body and mind are a continuum. In other words, although they are not entirely the same, a great overlap exists that unites them. Relieve your mental stress and your body will be happier too. Nothing relieves mental stress like forgiveness. Guilt and hatred resolve nothing; they just sustain the negativity that continues to obstruct you from your goals. Forgiveness, on the other hand, undoes the stickiness that binds you to an unhappy past.
Does It Work?
Absolutely - for you. Since the forgiveness experience will happen only for you, only you will receive its benefits. Your forgiveness may not influence a change in the behavior of others one bit. But it's not about them. It's about you. Forgiveness is about generating your own healing. You are the only player in your life over whom you have all the power. It's time to exercise your personal power, your right to choose to feel better about who you are, your right to process your past and move on with your life.
It's a Private Thing
Since forgiving is all about you getting your own heart clear, it's best done in the privacy of your own mind. Afterwards you'll have the choice of telling others, if you like, but initially the process works best in solitude. Tell no one, just do the work. And watch how easy it is to feel better all day every day. Contrast this to the fact that all the pity parties in the world with your friends and relatives never made you feel better one bit. Those tactics don't work because they don't process emotions, they merely create a feedback loop that deepens the groove of the pain. Since you know that what you used to do didn't work, it's time to do what does.
Forgive in Steps
Like a pyramid, forgiveness may seem overwhelming at first, but it's easily accomplished step by step. So begin by recognizing that there are three sections:
- forgiveness of others
- receiving forgiveness from others
And these can be further broken down into nicely manageable chunks.
When you forgive others in categories, it proceeds more easily. For example, you could choose to use the categories of Strangers, Friends, Family, The People who Hurt You The Most, and Anybody Else. You may include additional categories like Exlovers, Neighbors, Coworkers, Employees, etc., and some forgivers need to add the category of Humanity Itself. And you can start with the categories you find easiest. Once you notice how good it feels to forgive, this will inspire you to forgive everyone as much as possible, as fully as you can.
In this step, start with your earliest years and ascend: Newborn, three year old, five year old, ten year old, teenager, 20s, etc., and on up to your current age, forgiving yourself thoroughly for absolutely everything as you go. Once you get to your current age, forgive yourself for your whole life. Remember, all humans are flawed. No one is a perfect son or daughter, man or woman, husband or wife, student or teacher, worker or boss. You are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. Forgiveness is an optimal method to process your learnings.
Receiving Forgiveness from Others
In the privacy of your own mind, visualize then apologize to folks you've wronged, and let them accept your apology. It may surprise you to learn that others really want to forgive you. They do. So let them forgive you and receive the cleansing of that forgiveness. Afterwards, with some people, you may elect to actually apologize to them in person, but proceed carefully. There are a few folks in the world who can not accept apologies in real life, and this is why you process all of your apologies in your mind's eye thoroughly first, so that you get the emotional benefit of having apologized whether those apologies get accepted in real life or not.
Can you forgive the people who hurt you the most 10%? 20%? 80%? 99.9%? It's not all or nothing. Ease on up to higher and higher percentages, always aiming for 100% forgiveness, but being real with yourself. If the people who hurt you the most are not 100% forgiveable on your first attempt, continue forgiving them bit by bit till you get as close to full forgiveness as possible. Start with a realistic percentage, then increase your forgiveness on subsequent attempts, always aiming for 100%. Just do your best.
Forgiving People Versus Events
It can be one thing to forgive individual people, and can yet be quite another thing to forgive the things those people did. What to do? Forgive the events and actions as they come to mind. As you think of instance after instance, forgive everyone involved as best you can for everything that happened.