“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
So much of the modern western world today was built on the principle of – confess your sins (say sorry) and you will be forgiven. We tend to forgive people with a lot more ease when they show clear remorse for the pain their actions have caused.
How do we forgive people that are not sorry or aren’t even aware that they have done something to hurt you?
The truth is that when we hold on to the feelings of betrayal, anger, frustration, hurt or resentment around the actions of another, we will only ever poison ourselves. It is a tough reality that we are making the choice to hold on to those feelings, no one is forcing you to. You have the choice to hold on and you also have the choice to let go.
Letting go of that pain takes true strength. Mahatma Gandhi said it best with ““The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Forgiveness is not about condoning what the other person has done, it is about freeing yourself. I would say majority of the time the other person has no knowledge or understanding of the hurt their actions have caused you. Most people always think they are doing the right thing and even if you don’t see it they often have some remorse if they know they have hurt you. It is a powerful moment when you embrace the choice you have to either let what they have done keep hurting you or to let it go and move forward. Easier said than done I know, remember it is your choice and you are strong enough to make it.
Forgiving and letting go is a true act of self-love. Loving yourself enough to let go of the poison and loving yourself enough to recognise that while you are holding on you will never be your best self.
When we forgive it is almost like there is an expectation that things will go back to how they were. With each new experience in our life we learn and we grow. Just because you forgive them does not mean you have to trust them again, you know better now. When you let go of the anger you will be a stronger and wiser version of yourself than before and you are in a position to make better choices to avoid a repeat of the situation that was causing heartache in your life.
Below I have shared some approaches that may help you in forgiving and letting go
1. Make the choice that you want to let it go and release the poison in you
2. Write a letter to the other person detailing how you feel and the pain their actions have caused you. Although this letter is addressed to them, it is for you. Complete the letter by stating that you forgive them and you release them. Then either shred it or burn it, do not keep it to keep reading over. Once you have got it all out, truly let it go.
3. Meditate – There are plenty of guided forgiveness meditations out there if you feel called to find one. You can do a visualisation where you see the person you feel you need to release and you approach them with love and empathy, imagine yourself walking up to them, giving them a hug and telling them that you let it go and that you understand they were only doing the best they could with the resources, knowledge and awareness they had at the time.
4. Think about what you are grateful for having gained from this experience?
5. Stay present – do not keep replaying the past in your mind. Every time those thoughts come up imagine them as clouds in your mind just passing by with no attachment from you.
6. Think about when you have forgiven in the past, how did it make you feel? Do you look back on that experience and wish you stayed angry for longer? The three most common things people want to tell others on their death bed is – I’m sorry, I forgive you, I love you. You know that the pain will go away and you will get to this place, so why hold onto it any longer?
Remember that you forgiving is not for them, it is for you.