Sometimes forgiving somebody can be difficult, especially when those who hurt you are precisely those you love, trust or helped the most. Disappointment, confusion, anger or sadness can be experienced all at once when we are hurt.
Nevertheless, it is essential to learn how to forgive as the presence of mixed negative feelings for a longer period of time can only deepen the pain and transform us into the prisoners of our emotions. Thus, refusing to forgive may keep alive the negative feelings that sometimes lead to anxiety and depression. Resentment towards those who have wronged you can become a burden that prevents you from making the best decisions for yourself and block your spiritual or mental evolution.
Unforgiveness: The Silent Disease
Repressed emotions and unspoken thoughts transform into spiritual cancer. They can follow us for years even after the person who has done us wrong is no longer in our life. These feelings have a greater impact than we can imagine and can influence the important decisions we make and the quality of future relationships. That is because we tend to associate the new situation with past experiences and we may begin to search for “clues” that could predict the future of a situation or a relationship leading to a form of paranoia. Thus, painful memories can contribute to increased levels of stress and anxiety as we become doubtful of people’s intentions.
Consequently, resentments and stress can cause biological dysregulation leading to insomnia, eating disorders, cardiac insufficiency or decreased vitality.
Admittedly, physical imbalances are a warning sign of the spiritual suffering as we often do not give importance to the spiritual health. We ignore it, and we believe it cannot turn into a physical illness. On the contrary, the more we delay the healing of negative emotions, the more intense will be their effects on our metabolism and quality of life.
Open The Box of Emotions
The first step in beginning a spiritual cleansing is to acknowledge the emotions. “Yes, I hate the fact that…” ,“Yes, I am angry because of…” etc. That is because when we are hurt or experience betrayal, the first reaction is to deny the pain, the facts, and the reality. We try to convince ourselves that speaking about our misfortune will not fix the situation nor restore the emotional connection with the “aggressor”. On the other extreme of the experience, certain individuals try to repress their emotions by choosing harmful activities such as alcohol & drug abuse, binge eating or risky sexual behaviours.
Although certain situations are damaged beyond repair, speaking about their effects on your mental or emotional state can actually help you.
Secondly, try to see the situation from different perspectives. For example, what are the reasons that “pushed” the other person to hurt you? Was it unintentional or premeditated? If it was intentional, look at it as a lesson that has surely given you a pack of new skills and a new insight into life.
When people are asked to forgive they tend to think that forgiveness will enable or encourage unhealthy behaviours and perhaps allow more space for future mistreatment.
This belief can be partially true as certain individuals may take advantage of the second chance and continue causing pain. On the other hand, forgiveness means more than that.
It means disconnecting from the past and from everything that hurt you; it means getting rid off of all the emotional baggage you carry from an experience and free your mind/soul of its pressure. The key is to live in the present and focus on what you can do now with what you have based on who you are now.
Accept that we are all humans and therefore, prone to make mistakes, by choice or influenced by circumstances. Not everyone we meet is emotionally matured nor perhaps in sync with our emotions, needs or plans. Whatever may have influenced a person to hurt you, is not related to you. It is their lesson, their experience from which they will eventually learn or progress.
Now, let’s discuss 5 common methods that could help you develop forgiveness:
- Spiritual Meditation
The notion of forgiveness has its roots in spirituality and it is mainly discussed in Christianity and Islam. If you are a religious person, remember God’s grace towards us as sinners and here it is a wonderful reminder from the Psalm 103:
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Similarly to God’s power of forgiveness, we must also forgive those who hurt us instead of seeking revenge or hoping that Karma will make justice. If the situation cannot be saved, be thankful for the experience, learn from it and leave it in the past.
And speaking of gratitude, start counting your blessings. Write down all the positive things and events that have happened in your life so far. Although you have just been through a terrible experience, there must be something that makes you happy and proud.
2. Keep a Diary of Your Emotions/Thoughts
Open discussion may not be always easy when we are hurt. Sometimes we may find it difficult to express through words the real meaning of our emotions. This is why keeping a diary would be helpful in the first stages. Write down how you feel or what you think.
At the same time, set up small goals for yourself. For example, 1st Week Target: Have Less Bitter Thoughts About a Painful Experience. Express your emotions and thoughts, but at the same time reduce the attention you give to negative memories by engaging or focusing on different activities. If today your diary page was filled with anger, try to find activities that will help you channel the frustration in a way that the next page will contain more joy and less anger. If you are familiar with the Law of Attraction, then you know that the energy we spread around attracts similar energies.
Another example would be the 2nd Week Target: Who Am I Today? Let the bygones be bygones. Who you were yesterday or how you felt is not a part of your present. When people are hurt, they tend to compare their life before and after the pain. The questions are: who are you today? who do you want to be tomorrow? and how can you develop yourself?
3. Be Kind & Loving
Pain can transform us into ill-tempered, frustrated, impatient and bitter creatures. And I say creatures and not individuals because logic and compassion are replaced by the above-mentioned emotions. We tend to criticize other people & the surroundings, we become impatient with ourselves and most of the time with the ones around us.
If you feel the same, try to replace those harmful emotions with kindness and love. Whether you want to make it your weekly or long-term goal, kindness is the way through which you can learn/develop forgiveness.
Be compassionate with others who suffer, make acts of kindness, search for those who need support and understand their pain from their perspective. You will be amazed to see how many people experience similar emotions like yours. This way you will see yourself through their eyes and through the help you will give, you actually help yourself.
4. Avoid Conflicts
When we are resentful or hurt, anger is somewhere hidden in the heart or mind and as soon as the smallest opportunity arises, we are keen on releasing all the bad energy on something or someone. Psychologists call this reaction as brain’s defensive mechanism in order to protect us from more pain. However, you should distance yourself from stimulants during the healing process. If certain people or situations seem to demand much of your attention and energy at a great expense, then a break is the safest solution for both parties.
Instead, seek peace, moments in nature, sports, arts or any activity that helps you restore the inner equilibrium.
5. Embrace the Difficult Times
Overcoming pain or giving up on grudges is not an easy process. There will be days when the previous four tips will function, and days when they will fail to help you, there will also be days when you will struggle. You will refuse to forgive, you will hate everything and everyone. So, you will be on an emotional roller coaster and it is totally normal. The emotional scars take time to heal, but the key is to put all your dedication and energy into erasing that hate and regain your peace. It may take weeks or months, but it will happen.
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Marianne Williamson