How to Forgive When You Really Want to Hurt Someone
What do you do when you KNOW you need to forgive someone yet you FEEL like you want to hurt them. The last thing on your mind when feeling angry is “gee, I should just forgive this person.” What you may not realize is that by holding on to anger, contempt, resentment, etc… you are only hurting yourself. That soul-sucking resentment can create a lot of stress, illness and dis-ease.
When someone hurts us, it’s easy to blame the other person for all their actions. Playing the blame game makes us right and them wrong. It helps feed our ego of our need to be right. When I divorced my ex-husband, I held a lot of anger towards him. There was domestic violence involved with me and our kids. It was scary. I was SO angry for my kids. I went into protection mode and did everything I could to ensure their safety. There was a point of no return and I knew our marriage was over. It was a gradual thing. I found myself making excuses for him. Inside, I was dying a slow bleeding death. I was angry for what he did to us. I was angry for what his actions meant for us. I was mostly angry that our kids were caught in the middle of this ‘situation’ and worried for their emotional health and how his behavior and our divorce would impact them. All I could think of was how I wanted to stab him in the eyes. I found myself wishing he would get run over by a truck. I’m embarrassed to say I had these thoughts. Fortunately, I was able to move through my anger and forgive.
I realized a few years after our divorce that in order for me to move forward in life, I HAD to forgive him. I HAD to. I had to forgive MYSELF for so many things, too. As I started forgiving, I sent my ex love and light. I prayed for his happiness and well-being. I truly, truly wanted him to be happy. I reached out and we had a terrific four hour talk one night and really listened to each other. It was the first time I felt ‘heard’ by him. I realized that he felt bad about the entire situation. No parent in their right mind has kids thinking… “You know, how can I screw up my kid today?”
So…what do you do when you are in that angry, resentful place? Here are my top 10 tidbits of advice
to forgive when you are faced with mounting negative emotion:
1. Remind yourself that forgiveness is for YOU! This makes it easier to forgive than to hang on to so much anger, hurt and betrayal.
2. Acknowledge that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. As such, we make mistakes. That’s how we learn and grow.
3. Remember that we are all doing the best we can at the time with the knowledge, skills and resources available to us. When we know better, we definitely do better.
4. Remind yourself of how much forgiveness would mean to you if the roles were reversed. If you truly regretted the situation and received forgiveness, how freeing would that be for you!?!
5. You remember why you love(d) them. Love is about forgiveness. Forgiveness is about love. At some point you loved the person and remembering some of the good things about them helps ease the pain. Every time I thought of my ex, I sent him love.
6. Forgiveness comes easier when you know that what people say or do is about them. It’s never about you. Truly.
7. In order to truly be free and move forward in life, you’ve got to open your heart and forgive. I needed to set the tone for my kids, too. I had to show them that forgiveness is important to overall well-being.
8. Ask yourself “What lessons must I learn from this? What strengths must I develop as a result of this experience?” Focusing on the positives helps the resentment melt away.
9. Write a brutally honest, emotionally raw letter telling them how much they have hurt and angered you, then tear it up and/or burn it. As you tear it up, think about each piece being a key to your freedom. If you burn the letter, as you watch the smoke rise, think about the fact that you are not that hurt and that anger. It is fleeting, just like everything else. Send your hurt away with the smoke as it rises up and out.
10. Remember, it’s between them and God. Oh and karma…well, you know.
At the end of our lives, we ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ask ourselves how we lived, loved or made a difference in the world. We never wish we had spent more time at work or wish that we had held onto our anger longer. A few other things I want you to remember:
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget.
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean you allow the person to remain in your life or occupy your energy. Set boundaries.
Forgiveness IS always for YOU and only you. You are worth it. You are worthy to receive all the goodness and peace life has to offer.
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