THREE LESSONS ON FORGIVENESS FOR THE STUBBORN AND THE HURT
If you find it hard to forgive, this one is for you.
If you clicked on this article, you’re probably someone who finds it hard, if not impossible, to forgive the ones who’ve hurt you. I can say the same for myself. During my journey with forgiveness, I stumbled upon the hard-hitting realization that forgiveness might be one of the hardest lessons I would have to learn. It’s true, forgiveness is not easy, and you shouldn’t guilt yourself for being unable to forgive. It’s hard to find the right reasons to pardon when you don’t believe that the person who has hurt you deserves it. It’s even harder when most advice revolves around trusting God or being the bigger person. Well, I don’t believe in God, and I think the idea of being the bigger person is overrated - you don’t get any rewards for that. It’s a painful choice that brings no profit. These have never been good enough reasons for me to forgive someone who’s brought me a lot of pain, so I took the time to make up my reasons. If you’re like me, stay and let me share with you my findings in hopes that it becomes at least a little easier for you to let go of the unnecessary weight on your heart and finally move on.
If you’re still not convinced that forgiveness is for you, let me tell you that the advice I’m about to share may be perspective-changing. Let me show you how to learn to forgive people even if you’re too stubborn and too hurt. If I was willing to let go (and the truth is, I’m only just starting), I trust that my words may inspire someone else to do the same.
Before we start: please keep in mind that you're not required to forgive anyone. If you are not ready to forgive anyone, don’t force yourself. However, I always encourage people to have an open mind, just in case something that you may stumble upon ends up having the power to shift your perspective in a direction you’ve never imagined before. You can take in as many lessons as you can and still choose to do nothing. And that's okay.
TIP NO.1: FIRST THINGS FIRST, YOU’RE DOING THIS FOR YOU AND NO ONE ELSE.
If there is any place in your heart for forgiveness at all, know that the first step to achieving the goal is realizing that you’re doing this for YOU. Why? The hard-hitting truth is, the people who have caused you the suffering aren’t suffering from the pain and anger that you’re holding onto. It’s doing more harm to you than anyone else. The people who have hurt you are going on about their lives, and perhaps, they’re not even aware that they have aware hurt you. The resentment that you’re holding onto is nothing but a heavy load on your heart, which is keeping you from moving forward in life. Forgiveness isn’t some kind of a favour that you’re doing to whoever has hurt you; forgiveness is a form of self-care. The first step towards forgiving is letting the pain and the negative feelings go - not to make amends with whoever has hurt you, but to prevent the past from destroying your heart.
How do you let go of the pain and the negative feelings? Listen to them, accept them, and take care of yourself in the process. You won’t be able to let go of your feelings if you keep avoiding them. It’s true, confronting your emotions can be scary, and it can hurt too, but it’s necessary, and in the long run, it's worth it. One thing I like to do is talk it out, and not necessarily to a friend. Some people prefer writing it down, but if you don’t, you’re more than welcome to talk it out to yourself or a friend. Do whatever works best for you. Release the emotions and say goodbye to them.
TIP NO.2: Forgiving is not about forgetting but rather about remembering without anger.
One of my biggest issues with forgiveness was the idea that I had to accept what was done to me. I couldn’t because I knew it wasn’t right - there was no excuse for it. It took me a while to understand that forgiveness is not about accepting or excusing what was done to you at all. It’s about not letting that take a toll on you. Anger only drains the energy out of you, and you need a lot of it to make sure that whatever happened in the past will not happen to you again. You can't undo the past, but you can learn from it. So free your body, mind, and spirit - that is all that’s required of you. After all, it’s impossible to forget. So remember, but only to make sure that nothing like that ever happens to you again. At the end of the day, this is your biggest priority.
Keep in mind that forgiveness takes time - it’s not easy. I found myself taking the time to mourn the person that I used to be before getting hurt. I missed the innocence, the strength, the hope. It took me time to realize that no matter how hard it was to go through the experience, I was now in the present moment looking back at it as nothing more than a memory. To balance it all out, I expressed gratitude for the person that I’ve become after getting hurt - a stronger, wiser version of me. Do I still feel sad thinking about what I went through? Of course, and yet as of lately, anger is nowhere to be found because I realized that I have the power to turn the experience into my strength as I move on. Remember to remember with intent, and don’t let the anger burn you out.
TIP NO.3: FORGIVING SOMEONE MEANS NOT LETTING THEM HAVE CONTROL OVER YOU.
It’s unacceptable to let someone have control over you long after they’ve hurt you. The sad truth is, by not being able to forgive people, we often give them power over our freedom and peace without even realizing it. The worst part about it is that whoever has hurt us has done nothing to get that power, they have never asked for it, nor do they even realize they have it. They receive it at the expense of our neglect, and in the end, we suffer double the pain. It’s quite evident that none of us would want to give such power to the people who hurt us - forgiving means taking away that power from them.
I hope that reading this has given you a fresh perspective on forgiveness. One that does not require you to think of the person who has hurt you as the one on the receiving end of this. I hope that reading this has given you the hope and strength to take a step forward and begin the journey of moving on. I know I have. I won’t lie - I am nowhere near being done with my pain, but I am finally feeling confident about being able to overcome it. I only hope that you do too. People hurt each other, people make mistakes, it’s only natural. Our priority should be getting over it and not letting it rule our lives. Every single experience in our life is an opportunity to learn, if we give ourselves the space to do so. I only wish to anyone that reads this at least a glimmer of hope.