Forgive and forget I say! The thing is it’s fairly easy to say it – although actually meaning it is quite a different thing. Thankfully quite a few of us can just about manage the forgiving part but struggle with the forgetting!
The trouble is, to forgive someone properly you have to let go of whatever the wrong was and not hold onto it. Just saying the words is only a small part of the solution, you have to actually mean it. Everyone can relate to carrying a grudge that's gone on for far too long, this is just how we're built. The truth is, that as long as there are relationships of any kind in the world, there will always be a need for forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a powerful thing, even though sometimes it gets mixed up with its close cousin, acceptance, which while important, isn’t quite the same thing. For a lot of people, being able to forgive someone properly actually allows them to truly move on and get over the pain that we were feeling. Basically, a life lived without forgiveness is a life of real pain for all those involved.
Forgiveness has a place for everyone, regardless of your age or level of hurt. Everyone probably has something that they can be forgiven for and indeed that they must forgive. So how can we take that step forward, even when deeply hurt, to take charge of our lives so it's possible to forgive?
One way to look at it is seeing the past as the present, and the future too, because past wounds, from any source, can infect our present and the way we carry on in the future. If you were hurt by someone, you may carry a grudge, even if you not overly aware that you are or be so hurt that you are psychologically ready to be hurt again and again.
Someone says something that they consider not very important, a throwaway comment if you like, but you can't help but interpret it as yet another dig at you! You're the walking wounded, and the past becomes your present. Yes, you're hurt, but that wound will carry on hurting you all the time you leave it open. If that person is aware that they've hurt your feelings and says sorry, it makes it easier to let go of the hurt. It's easier to let go because that person has done half of the healing work for you. But, what if that person doesn't even know that they have hurt you? It may be in your interest to find a way to forgive them anyway – and let it go.
Sometimes it’s best to actually go up to that person and let them know that they have hurt you (at least from your point of view). You may well get some understanding from this or, on the other hand, over defensiveness – or maybe even something in the middle. But you still need to find a way to let it go and move on. Doing something is better than doing nothing and letting the situation fester.
So what if you discover that a person is purposely trying to hurt you, and won't stop? At this point you may need to forgive yourself for letting that person get under your skin so badly to begin with. There are tried and tested ways to handle a bully, but it is difficult to be effective if you're feeling hurt yourself.
We're all wounded by people and words in some way at some point. You'd be surprised to hear of all the wounds that everyone carries around with them every day from the past. Many of these wounds can actually determine how people feel about themselves for their entire life.
So, how do you break free? There is no easy process but, who wants to be held down by the past? Forgiveness, like grieving, has stages. You go through denial, bargaining, anger, depression and finally you come to acceptance. Forgiveness is a lot like grieving. The important things that we need to forgive don't come easily.
First, you have to acknowledge that you have to forgive. Carrying old wounds is simply a burden that steals the pleasure from the life that we have now. Let’s face it, we are not on this earth forever, and sitting around being a victim all your life it not anyone’s idea of a good time.
Knowing that you have a hurt that needs healing is only a first step. You also have to deal with real feelings of anger and resentment. I often think that the word ‘FAIR’ is a four letter word, too many people can't get over just how 'unfair' life is. Such pain, what’s the point!? Life IS unfair at times, but let's not forget, it's also filled with love and happiness too.
Forgiveness is ultimately a gift to yourself. It allows the wounds to heal. Ultimately you have to forgive yourself for holding on to resentment for so long. Sometimes we have to actively go and grab the moral high ground for ourselves. Even if this means forgiving someone who doesn’t even think they need forgiving.
When you accept what has happened, vow to try to not let it happen again, forgiveness is possible. There comes a point where we have to draw a line in the sand and say it’s times to let go of all this hurt and anger that i’m feeling. Even if it means we sometimes have to say sorry ourselves to the person who we feel has caused us the hurt! Surely it’s better to do this and get the boulder of forgiveness rolling, rather than just letting it crush us, because we aren’t prepared to budge our opinion on who was right and who was wrong in any given situation. Not only that, but forgiveness can also give you a massive sense of release, it will make you feel utterly free so you can better enjoy this life and move forward in a better state of mind.