How do you forgive? How do you let go of the sadness, anger or resentment often attached to forgiveness?
When someone hurts a loved one or me, I want to right the wrongs.
My heart grips to these feelings, my ego takes over and I simply can’t let go. The little voice inside my head takes a strong hold “speak your truth, fight back, right the wrong.” My heart, on the other hand, says, “loosen your grip, soften your heart and the lesson will reveal itself.”
It’s so hard to forgive the kids who made fun of you when you were 10 and let you eat lunch all by yourself; the boy you loved who broke your heart for the very first time; the friend you thought would always have your back and ended up betraying you.
My heart has been broken by life. A hurt that runs deeper than these “surface wounds” ever will and yet this is what my ego chooses to focus on. I must right the wrong. Says who? I am not the judge and I am not the jury.
Maybe the lesson hasn’t been learned and that is why it’s hard to let go.
Forgiveness is a prevalent topic in my line of work as a life coach and yoga teacher. I feel my clients’ pain and know the questions to ask so that they release the heavy, negative energy that is attached to forgiving; yet, there’s no simple formula, no process I can offer that will just take their pain away, erase the scars once and for all and allow them to trust again.
It’s a journey we must all endure, I suppose.
How do you forgive and let go when someone has hurt you?
Or have they?
Maybe they hurt so bad they just don’t know any other way than to hurt others back. Maybe they’re afraid to feel love so they put up their walls.
The truth is, we are all walking around with a wounded child within us. We’ve been hurt and we’ve been the perpetrator of hurt.
Our nervous system is equipped to protect us—fight or flight. So our brain will store betrayal, heartbreak, loss, (etc.) for future protection. Imagine all the hurt a person accumulates in a lifetime? All this heavy emotional energy weighing us down!
We must consciously work towards healing ourselves and opening our hearts to those who have hurt us. To let go of any limiting belief we form that “people are bad” or “out to get me,” we must lighten up.
If a wounded child approached me on the street, how would I treat her? I would hug her and tell her everything is going be okay. I would do everything in my power to make her feel safe and loved.
My linear brain wants the step by step answer on how to forgive. My ego will continue to get in the way (I’m sure) of what is at my core: love.
Love and let go. Forgive.
Here are some ways I help my clients and myself release the heavy energy that anchors us down when we find it difficult to forgive:
1) Sit with your feelings. Sadness, anger, pain—acknowledge these feelings and allow yourself to feel them. Often times we want to be a warrior and quickly move past the hurt, maybe even numb it or sweep it under the rug. I promise you, this energy is weighing you down and will sooner or later reveal itself if unfelt.
2) Don’t be a victim. Sit with your feelings but don’t dwell in them. Ruminating about how you where hurt and betrayed will weigh you down more. Do something constructive with your pain. Find the silver lining. Of course it sucks to be hurt or betrayed, but challenges are how we learn and grow. Look for the lesson and don’t close yourself off. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
3) Get your feelings out on paper. Writing a letter or journalling about events that cause deep rooted negative emotions help you clarify your thoughts and feelings and release emotions involved.
4) Challenge the limiting belief that will undoubtedly be formed as a result of your pain. As a protective mechanism, your brain will tell you “people are no good”—find the opposite. Put your focus on love and the goodness that is in your life. Find one or two good people who will proof your belief wrong. Or better yet, be the person that proofs the belief wrong. Do this every time the limiting belief comes up.
5) Learn to trust again without being a doormat. Sure, there are people who are untrustworthy and we all make mistakes. If the offender is making genuine attempts at reconciliation, the choice is yours. Let your heart be your guide and trust your inner wisdom. Forgiveness is not acceptance of wrong behavior, it’s simply releasing all the negative energy that affects you physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
6) Wish your offender the best. At first this will be hard and feel hypocritical, but the more you practice this, the more the pain in your heart evaporates and you become lighter. Remember: how others treat you is a reflection of their belief system, their pain. It has nothing to do with you.
The next time someone hurts me, I will choose to focus my energy on forgiving them, rather than hold onto these feelings that make me a prisoner. I will see my “perpetrator’s” wounded child, I will ask myself “who do I want to be, no matter what is done to me?” and hope that my heart will whisper: “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu,” which means, “may all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may my thoughts and my actions somehow contribute to that freedom for all.” Yes, even my perpetrators.
Forgiveness = Freedom. I forgive. I choose to be free.
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Assist Ed: Renee Picard/Ed: Sara Crolick