Life happens. People hurt us. We hurt people.
We need to forgive others. We need to forgive ourselves.
No need to worry about if someone else forgives us. (That is 100% up to them and we should not take it personal.)
We understand these concepts, but we have problems when it comes how exactly we forgive. It is not an easy thing to do. We often don’t even know where to begin. And it feels like it can take forever.
For the past couple years, I have tried to read everything I could on forgiveness. I journaled about it. I tried to practice it.
I even went through a phase where I believed forgiveness was not even a thing. That it was something made up to torture us because we could not manage it!
Over time I found not only a process that worked for me, but I realized how beneficial forgiveness is to emotional healing. You can’t heal fully without forgiveness.
I am still on a journey to learn more. I have a couple more books I have on my want to read list and am still journaling about it.
When I think I have completely forgiven someone, a very unforgiving emotion appears. Suddenly, I am starting over again.
But I promise, it does get easier and we do get to a place of complete forgiveness. It can just take a while.
Forgiveness has many levels. They will appear the deeper into healing you get. Stick with it and you will find new peace that you did not know was there.
Below is what I have learned so far on forgiveness. I hope it can help you in your healing journey as much as it has helped me.
Simply said, it is when we release someone from the hurt they have caused. This includes yourself. You can also look at it as healing the emotions you had when an event took place.
Short version - when you don’t forgive, you end up walking around angry and bitter. You want revenge. You want to expose to the world whoever hurt you for who they are.
Yet, from personal experience I can guarantee you that is not healthy. It delays your healing. It brings you down to the level of the person who hurt you.
Yet, there are many more benefits to forgiveness than you not being angry. Here are a few that I have experienced:
When most people start talking forgiveness they start thinking about forgiving others. Yet too often the person we need to forgive is ourselves. I know this is true with myself. It is much easier to forgive others, than it is to forgive myself.
Most of the time I don’t even know that I need to forgive myself. I will wake up stressed out and wondering why I can’t calm down. It is typically because I am beating myself up about something from the previous day.
I won’t let myself have a mistake – I won’t forgive it and end up causing great amounts of stress. (I am a recovering perfectionist.)
Self-forgiveness allows you to fully engage in self-compassion. When you don’t forgive yourself then you don’t think you deserve compassion. For that matter you don’t think you deserve to be forgiven by others or be in a healthy relationship.
Self-forgiveness makes everything easier. Although this is the hardest part of forgiveness and the one I am still working on.
Everyone’s path to forgiveness will be different. But here are the things that worked for me.
This is a book by Collin Tipping. It is hands down the most beneficial thing for me when working on forgiveness.
It is based on the idea that we all come here to learn different lessons. While here events are coordinated by a higher source that allow you to learn. Forgiveness is then based on the idea that the person who hurt you was actually helping you.
I know this is a very different idea, and one that can be hard to get your mind around. But I encourage you to read the book, or at the very least try some of his worksheets.
His step by step worksheets have been what has gotten me through many of the areas I was stuck on forgiving. Even when I was convinced nothing could get me passed the my emotional block.
Radical Forgiveness by Collin Tipping (Amazon Link)
Journaling is a great tool to help you understand the entire situation.
Take the time to journal about your these things:
It is hands down my go to tool to help heal anything emotionally. I have gained powerful insights about myself and others during my journal sessions.
For more on how to journal I have an entire article on that for you here: How to Journal
This is a system that uses your meridian points to help you change beliefs, forgive and a host of other things.
After you journal use tapping to help move your through the emotions of a situation or why it may have occurred.
For example, if you learned that you sabotaged a relationship because you did not believe you were worthy of love. Then you can tap on your being worthy to find healing.
When I first started healing myself there were tons of things I needed to process and change. I kept an ongoing list from my journaling that needed to be tapped on.
This way nothing got forgotten, but I did not have to do hours of tapping at one time!
This is one of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It is also the most critical part in forgiveness.
Short version, when something is done to you, it has nothing to do with you. It is the other person. When you hold on to that as an attack against you then you are taking it personally.
As a simple example if someone says your hair is ugly, it is their opinion and has nothing to do with you.
A more complicated example may be that a loved one verbally attacks you. They tell you that you are ungrateful. Again, this is their opinion, and you should not take it personally.
When you look at forgiveness from the perspective of not taking it personally then you can release someone. What they did had nothing to do with you. It was all their issue.
I know this is another hard concept to process. Yet once you get how exactly true it is in all situations it will permanently change how you look at everything.
This one is so important that it is the background on my phone!
When I felt like everything I ever did was not working, I turned it over to the Universe and my angels. Sometimes you need to accept that no matter how hard you work on forgiveness, you will need help.
You need to release control and let others step in to help you.
Not at all what you want to hear, but sometimes it just takes time. The more damaging the hurt the longer it will take. You can reduce the time by using the tools above, but you also need to give yourself space to feel the pain.
Expecting to instantly forgive someone is not practical.
First off if you can get away from this person, then you need to do that. Do not keep subjecting yourself to people that continually hurt you. This may require that you get counseling to understand why you keep putting yourself in that situation.
Second, my answer to this question does not include if you are being physically abused. If that is the case, you must find a way to get out of this situation. I know this is hard, you have bee brainwashed to think it is your fault. It is not – get help and get out.
Finally, the rest of my answer is for those who can’t get away. Typically, this would be in cases like divorce where you are co-parenting. It may also happen in a work environment. Although in a work environment I would encourage you to seek a new employment place or involve HR.
Remember forgiveness is not always easy, but it is always worth the effort. It also does not happen overnight. It takes time, there are layers to undo. There are some things that have taken me over two years to forgive, and some even more.
Don’t give up if you don’t instantly forgive. Keep working on it and you will find peace. Everything is forgivable, with time and effort.
Here are some books that I would recommend. I would read them in the order listed.
The four agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (This one is fantastic for dealing with just about everything that life throws at you. It will change the way you look at the world.)
Article that I found helpful by Wayne Dyer: https://www.drwaynedyer.com/blog/how-to-forgive-someone-in-15-steps/
Outside of that I recommend journaling. It is one of the best ways to heal old hurts and understand yourself. If you don't journal already, I have a starters guide on my website. http://www.aspirify.com/how-to-journal/
Andrea Travillian is an emotional healing coach. She helps clients break free of making the same mistakes over again. She has her MBA and undergraduate in finance and her coaching certificate. She is an author, speaker, and most importantly mom.