Life is a never-ending story of highs and lows. But if you can honestly and absolutely forgive the people who offend and deeply wound you along the way, the unavoidable slings and arrows of life are decidedly less piercing.
Foremost, it’s imperative that you view forgiveness as a self-empowering tool – a liberating act done for your enduring benefit. Forgiving another human being allows you to unfetter an emotional ball and chain that you’ve been dragging around for all too long a time.
So, exactly where do you begin your forgiveness voyage? There are seven simple, but nonetheless profound, steps you can walk through to realize the rich benefits of genuine forgiveness. The journey starts with basic recognition:
What Is It That You Want to Forgive?
Before you can forgive another human being, it’s essential that you clearly identify the offense against you. Exactly what was it that hurt you? And why, until now, have you been unable, or unwilling, to forgive the transgressor? There are times in our lives when we may feel tremendous anger and loathing towards an individual, but cannot articulate exactly why we feel the way we do.
Honestly answer these three questions: Who hurt you? What hurt you? And why did this action offend you as it did? This kind of probing personal inquest is the all-important first step in the act of forgiving.
Find a Non-Judgmental Ear
Now comes the time to speak freely about this matter, and precisely what you’re trying to accomplish, with close persons in your life circle. An empathetic and non-judgmental pair of ears is what you need here. These individuals could be friends, family members, spiritual leaders, or even trained therapists. Unburdening yourself is an indispensable catharsis on the road to forgiveness – and a very welcome step two.
Don’t Suppress the Pain
Pain – physical and emotional – is a life one-two punch that we all have to parry every now and then. Like so many of us, you may be in the habit of suppressing your emotional pains – your deepest hurts – because, frankly, that degree of pain is often too much to bear. But while this course of inaction might assist you in existing in the short-term, it’s very detrimental to the long-term.
When you fully own up to, and clearly vocalize, how another person has hurt you, forgiveness is possible. On the other hand, if you opt to merely wallow in anger – in lieu of serious reflection – you will be incapable of forgiving. And, on top of everything else, this anger will wend itself deeper and deeper in your psyche, precluding you from ever knowing what it’s like to be truly emancipated.
The Truth Will Set You Free
Sometimes it’s the way we’ve been raised. Society also sends a barrage of mixed messages. You know how it goes. You feel guilty for feeling this way or that way. But the truth is that you have every right to feel the way you do, even if your feelings are unattractive and less than edifying.
You are a unique individual – a true original. It’s not for others to tell you that your feelings of anger and hurt are off base, silly, or irrational. By accepting the depths of your genuine feelings, you allow yourself to forgive others. If you deny your bona fide feelings, forgiveness will never be possible.
Honestly Assess Your Role in the Transgression
Life is a far cry from a seamless odyssey. Often it’s a misadventure. It’s therefore critical that you painstakingly appraise your role in the offense committed against you – the one that has so seared your heart and soul. You might uncover that you were anything but an innocent bystander.
By allowing yourself to see the big picture – the rest of the story, as it were – you immediately reap a greater understanding as to why you’ve been offended, and how you may have contributed to your own wound. In being totally honest with yourself concerning what happened and why it happened, the act of forgiveness automatically becomes more sincere and heartfelt.
There will ultimately come a moment when you must decide whether or not to face the person with whom you want to forgive. Very often, this decision is clear-cut. That is, if it’s a relationship of legitimate value to you – one that you want to save or make better – meeting and forgiving the person in question is the obvious road to travel down. If, however, the individual does not fit into this category, there is nothing wrong with forgiving him or her in your heart of hearts, and getting on with your life.
Forgiveness is in essence a release – an act of conscience. The fact that you’ve found it in yourself to unconditionally forgive a person is an uplifting experience in and of itself – enriching to your immediate circumstances as well as to your future days and nights.
Forgiveness Is a Process
We live in an age of instant gratification. Nowadays, it seems like everything’s got to be faster than fast, from Internet speeds to communicating via tweets. But there’s no such thing as high-speed forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness takes time.
It’s a healing process. And depending on the gravity of the transgression against you, it could take a very long time at that. Allow the seven steps to forgiveness to unfold at a pace that’s right for you and what you want to accomplish. There are absolutely no time constraints.
When all is said and done, we are all imperfect human beings who need to both forgive and be forgiven. The seven steps to forgiveness is a beneficial roadmap. Its directions lead to a much better place – a healthier and happier place.