In yesterday’s post we talked about the decision to forgive. While that’s an important part of forgiveness, the next one is the process of actually forgiving those around you. As much as we’d like to pretend that forgiveness is simply a decision we make, it’s not quite that easy. Forgiving is hard and as we established in yesterday’s post, it isn’t a feeling and it isn’t something that comes naturally to us.
Instead, I like to think of forgiveness as more of a habit. We make the decision to forgive and then we have to spend quite some time reminding ourselves daily of that decision until it becomes a habit, something automatic.
It’s not easy to let go of the anger and pain. When we first wake up in the morning, our instinctual reaction is to go back to those dark places. It takes a conscious effort to forgive over and over again until we’ve internalized it. In that sense, forgiveness is a process.
How long it will take you to completely forgive varies. It depends on what you have to forgive and how painful it was. It also depends on you and how long it takes you to form this new forgiving habit. Until you get to a point where you truly have moved on, it’s your job to remind yourself of this act of forgiveness.
Prayer and meditation are both great tools to help you along this journey of forgiveness. Keeping a journal is another great way to support yourself during this process. And of course you shouldn’t discount talking to people. This could be a close friend, a family member, or even a therapist that helps you through your grieving process as well as the process of forgiveness.
It’s not going to be easy, and often it isn’t going to be quick. That’s why it’s important that when you make the decision to forgive, you do so whole heartedly. This is going to take effort, but the good news is that it is well worth it.
You know your process has ended when you feel that weight lift of your shoulders. You know you’ve completed your journey towards forgiveness when you no longer harbor feelings of anger and pain towards the person who’s done you wrong. You’ll feel at peace and well on your way to feeling happiness and joy again. In other words, there’s a very worthwhile reward at the end of this admittedly difficult process.
ACTION FOR TODAY:
Meet and speak with the people you’ve set up dates with. Invite an open and frank discussion. Start with open ended questions. It’s fine to let them know that you’re hurt, but do what you can to phrase it in a way that isn’t accusatory. After all, you’re not there to make them feel bad or make accusations. You’re there to start a discussion and have a talk about what happened. If you can, focus on clearing the air and seeing each other’s side of things. It’s not about who was right or wrong as much as it is understanding why things happened the way they did. How the conversation goes will determine your next steps with each person, and it’s up to you to keep note of that and follow up.
If you find that the other person is lashing out and trying to hurt you further, your best option is to walk away. At that point it may be time to cut them out of your life if possible, so you can find peace and move on. In either case, you’ve learned something from the discussion and more importantly you got yourself unstuck.
If you’re reluctant to approach the person who has hurt you, start by talking it out in your head. Have an imaginary conversation with them. Not only will this allow you to get clearer on the issue and your feelings without having to do any actual talking, it’s also a great exercise in finding out what may happen.
Make the conversation go as badly as you can imagine it. That right there is the worst that can happen. Facing your fear can help you be less afraid and less reluctant to have that actual talk. After all, chances are it will go much better than what you’ve feared and imagined. If you can…and it is safe, go have that talk so you can continue to move on and forgive.