True Forgiveness can be one of the most challenging things we face in life. When we feel we have been mistreated, wronged, abused, taken advantage of or not valued we tend to hold on to these feelings for a lifetime. Sometimes it is easy to rid this person or relationship from our lives and move on. However most of the time the people who hurt us to our very core are those we love most.
While it is important to feel these emotions and it is ok to be angry with someone, not forgiving someone can often actually hurt us more than them. The negative feelings we have about that person can cause us additional stress, anxiety, sadness and anger and this can prevent us from being our truly healthy and vibrant selves.
The truth is while we do not have power over other peoples’ behaviour and attitudes, we do have power over own…the power to learn, to heal, to grow, to change and to become better human beings.
So here are 7 steps that may help you on your path to forgiveness from “Your Life is Telling You, Love Yourself!” by Lise Bourbeau.
Remember these steps may take a day, a month or up to a year. As the book says “The most important thing to remember is that you go through the steps with sincerity and the desire to achieve true forgiveness.”
1) Identify your emotions. (there is often more than one). Become fully conscious of the accusations carried by you or against you and allow any emotions surrounding them to come to the surface. What does this make you feel?
2) Take responsibility. Taking responsibility simply means acknowledging that you are choosing to react out of fear. Determine what it is you are afraid of and understand that you may also be concerned that you will be accused of the same thing. Accept that something inside of you is attracting this person or situation in your life to help you get over the hurt that has been present since childhood.
3) Accept the other person and let go. You will only be able to let go and get on with your life once you’ve accepted the other person. To do so, all you have to do is put yourself in their shoes; you will begin to see things from their perspective and better understand their intentions. Know that they probably accuse you (and themselves) of the same thing you are accusing them of. Try to think what you may have done that caused them to accuse you of the same thing.
4) Forgive yourself. This is the most important step to forgiveness. It helps you make peace with yourself. Forgive yourself for having judged, criticized or accused the other person. Know that only a part of you did these things… the part that suffered.
Forgive yourself for having done whatever you did to the other person. To do so, you must give yourself the right to have fears, beliefs, and limits that cause you to suffer and react. Accept yourself just as you are, and stop being so hard on yourself. Know you are simply a work in progress.
5) Have the desire to express forgiveness. In preparation for step 6, imagine yourself face to face with the person concerned, telling them that because you were hurting, you have judged, criticized or condemned them. If you can visualize sharing this with them and it arouses feelings of peace and liberation, you are ready to go on to step 6. (It is important to remember that your objective is not to tell them you forgive them).
6) See the person involved. Express your thoughts and feelings (identified in step 1) to that person, saying you regret your accusation, judgment or resentment. (only if they ask for your forgiveness do you say that you forgive them). I strongly suggest that you ask the person when he/she accused you of the same thing and in which situation.
7) Make the connection with the past. Look back at the events of your life and find a similar circumstance that relates to an authority figure: a father, mother, grandparent, teacher, etc. This person is usually of the same sex as the person you were accusing. Then, to liberate yourself, go over these six steps with this person from the past.