Nearly everyone has at one point or another uttered the string of words, “I forgive you.” More often than not, you say this immediately following an apology or in the aftermath of an argument.
While, for some, uttering a vow of forgiveness is a highly meaningful process, many make this simple statement without really committing to actually getting over the wrongs that they say they have forgiven. Truly forgiving someone, particularly when the hurt is severe, is an exceptionally difficult task. However, it is vital that you commit to forgiveness because, if you don’t, you will never really succeed in rebuilding your relationship. If you’re ready to forgive someone for real, take the steps necessary to put an end to the disagreement and begin fresh.
Step 1: Understand The Purpose
Forgiveness is not about the person you are forgiving; it’s about you. While the person you are forgiving will reap some benefits resulting from you getting over the incident in question, you’re the one who will benefit more acutely. You are the one, after all, who is undergoing the mental, and sometimes even physical, anguish of holding on to this cancerous upset. Remind yourself that you will be the primary beneficiary of your forgiveness to enhance not only your ability but also your motivation to forgive.
Step 2: Practice Calming Techniques
It is almost impossible to forgive without first calming yourself. If even the thought of the source of your hurt increases your blood pressure and speeds up your heart, use calming techniques to regain peace and balance. Take a deep breath, count to ten and then release it. Use yoga or meditation to sooth your nerves or listen to calming music and focus on positive imagery. Any method that works for you will prove beneficial, as it will put you in a better position to truly forgive.
Step 3: Recognize Inabilities
While humans do have more control over their actions than other species do within the animal kingdom, humans aren’t able to control their every action. They may act out in an uncharacteristically aggressive way or be more abrasive than they intended to be because of an upset or frustration. Understanding that not every action is intention is important to truly forgiving as, once you realize that the person who inflicted harm on you might not have done so consciously and maliciously, you can more easily get over the wrong-doing and fully forgiver the wrong-doer.
Step 4: Stop The Instant Replay
The human brain has the amazing ability to recall in extreme detail things that have happened in the past. This can be a wonderful feature, as it allows you to revisit that first kiss with the love of your life or the moment your child entered the world. However, this feature can also be pain inducing. Often, people think back on negative things that have happened, replaying the incident in their minds and dissecting it to the point of questioning every action or reaction and imagining what might have happened had things gone differently. If you’re still doing this, stop it. Each time you return to this pain-inducing event in your mind, you rip off the bandage and expose your still-healing wound to open air. Commit to letting the incident go. If you find yourself returning to it, refocus on anything else. As you distance yourself from the incident, you will find it decidedly easier to get over.
Step 5: Speak With Someone
In some cases, working through complex emotions solo just isn’t possible. If you’re struggling to get over something, enlist the help of a friend or family member. Talk with this support person and share not just the details of the incident you are trying to forgive but also your thoughts and feelings about the occurrence. Be open and honest, explaining the specific hurt and your progress in the forgiveness process. For example, if you’re trying to forgive a friend for sharing something you mentioned in confidence, don’t focus on the details of what was shared. Rather, discuss why this violation of trust is so hurtful to you specifically. Often, by simply vocalizing the reason for your upset you can improve your ability to mend and move on.