Yes, we all know the importance of forgiveness and setting yourself free from the resentments that hold you back, but how the heck do you do it? The feeling of wanting to move on from the plaguing thoughts of how someone has hurt you can be frustrating and maddening. We also know that “hurt people, hurt people” and until you can process and release your pain, you may unwillingly sabotage other important relationships in your life.
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean rationalizing or excusing the pain or abuse someone has put you through. It’s not about pretending that you don’t feel angry or hurt, it’s about responding to it a different way. It doesn’t mean forgetting it either. It just means setting yourself free from your wounds controlling your life. Forgiveness is for you, not them.
Often times, forgiving another person requires forgiving yourself first. We often judge ourselves for letting ourselves get into certain situations, or letting certain people in our lives. Although in our rational minds, we know we don’t deserve what has happened to us, we can’t quite forgive ourselves for dancing with the devil. Many of us have experienced such emotions and I can testify that this exercise by Deepak Chopra has let me forgive others, and myself:
7 Steps to Forgiving Yourself (or Anyone Else)
By Deepak Chopra
1. Responsibility -Tell yourself you will no longer assign blame for the action.
2. Feeling- Recall what the incident felt like at the time. Feel it in your body.
3. Labeling- Put an emotion to that feeling. Was it anger? Fear? Sadness?
4. Expressing- Write down what happened in the incident in the first person, then write it down as the other person. Finally, write it down as an objective 3rd person.
5. Sharing- Look at the person next to you and share your story, or share it with someone you trust.
6. Releasing- Tear (or burn) up that paper.
7. Celebrating- Stand up and celebrate the release. Maybe do a little dance.
Leana Sykes is a Relationship Counselor and the owner of Leana Sykes Relationship Counseling & Mediation in Oaklyn, NJ.