Forgiveness has undoubtedly been one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn in my life. Over the past 30 years, I’ve experienced a number of situations that have always led me to two choices- either continue holding onto anger and resentment over what’s occurred… or work towards forgiveness and letting go. However, it wasn’t until much later in my life that I was able to understand the amount of relief, power and freedom that lies in the latter decision. Many of you know the emotional freedom I’m talking about but I know there are plenty that are still struggling to get there. I was once there too.
Chances are you have experienced pain in your life. Chances are, you at some point have been put in a situation that you never asked for. Chances are, you’ve been deeply hurt before by someone you love in one way or another. And chances are, you’ve felt some, if not a lot, of emotional trauma over it. Maybe that someone was your parent, or your spouse, or a friend, or a stranger, or a co-worker, or just someone close to your family. Maybe what happened was absolutely horrific and truly the most painful thing ever. But I’ve learned that no matter who that “someone” is or what that “someone” did- the two choices I mentioned above remain the same… Forgiveness or Resentment.
Let me be clear that I don’t think it’s as simple as just making a choice one day and then everything’s lovely and wonderful after that. No… But the process does START with a choice. It starts with your willingness to change your perception and to try to see the situation in a different light. It starts with your desire to let go. To let go of the story, let go of the judgement, let go of your need for anything to be fixed and your need for that person to suffer for their actions (no matter how terrible of a thing they did). From my experience, you simply cannot heal until you start accepting and letting go. But this does not mean you have to agree with what they did, nor does it mean you need to allow that person in your life again. It just means that your choice to forgive is for YOU and YOUR healing. Its not for them.
With that said- I believe you shouldn’t try to start the forgiving process until you have truly allowed yourself to process your emotions. To grieve, to be angry, to feel sad and heartbroken- It’s crucial that you allow these feelings to be present and to feel them for whatever period of time you need to. I believe it’s also incredibly helpful if you have someone else in your life that is willing to hold the space for you to feel what you need to feel and express what you need to express. Whether that’s a friend or family member, or a coach or therapist. I believe this is so beneficial for any healing process.
There was a conference talk given by Jeffrey R Holland, in the 2018 General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints… In it he stated something that has always stayed with me. He said, “Despite the most terrible offenses that come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet onto the true path of healing.”
So now the real question… Once we are ready, how can we put ourselves onto the true path of healing? I’ll share some ways that I’ve found to be incredibly powerful and effective in my own life:
- Start with believing and knowing that the Lord understands what you feel and have been through. He understands perfectly your pain and your suffering. Through the atonement, He has suffered it all so that you don’t have to continue to carry it. Your hurt, your disappointment, your heartache, your anger and resentment- knowing that you can give it all to Him is the first and most important step.
- Changing your perception. This is so crucial in the process of forgiveness and healing. You cannot truly forgive or let go when you have a continuous mindset of “How could this have happened to me? or “I’ll never get past this” or “I’ve been so wronged.” To really help shift your perception, you’ve got to start asking yourself and exploring questions like, “What is this experience doing FOR me?” or “What is my heart meant to gain from all of this?” Questions like that will interrupt your typical thought pattern and can really help your perception to start shifting. But you must take the time to really ponder these questions and answer them.
- Writing. If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on Instagram, you know that I feel strongly about writing and journaling. Writing your thoughts and feelings on paper is like a form of meditation that allows you to clear negative energy, and at the same time it frees up space in your mind for healing thoughts to be created. I personally have found that for the purpose of forgiving someone, it’s incredibly effective to write a letter. (Even if you have no intention of giving them the letter). When you write a letter to the person who you’re struggling to forgive, expressing all of your thoughts and feelings, it really helps release those trapped emotions inside of you and promotes the healing process. And always CRY when you need to cry. Don’t fight it.
- Affirmations. Affirmations are just statements said with intention. And that intention combined with feeling is what allows your mind, body and spirit to benefit from them. So if you consistently practice affirmations with the intention to help yourself forgive and heal, you will find that to be the exact result you start creating for yourself. Affirmations like, “I choose to forgive so I can be free. I am letting go of all anger and frustration. I move through forgiveness into compassion. I now choose to release all hurt and resentment. I am ready to be healed and I am willing to forgive.” You could use any or all of these affirmations on a daily basis and I guarantee you would be amazed at what they do for you! Your words have such power!
- Forgiveness Meditation. This has been one of the most powerful things I’ve learned to do. And it doesn’t need to be complicated. I’m going to share a simplified version that is still very effective… First, you find a quiet place without any distractions, (for me it’s my bedroom), sit down and close your eyes. Before you begin, set your intention of forgiveness. Meaning that you basically declare in your mind that the purpose of this meditation is to help you move into forgiving, and keep your energy flowing toward that result. Then, you can simply visualize the person in your mind who you’ve harbored these feelings toward. Imagine them as the imperfect human they are. Imagine them with all the internal struggles that they perhaps have never overcome or healed from since childhood…which could be the very reason they act the way they do and have done what they’ve done. Visualize yourself feeling love and compassion for them in that moment (Important) .You can even imagine reaching your hand out to them or hugging them and saying the words, “I forgive you.” Focus on the feelings this gives you, and breathe through it—– As I said, this is a simplified version you can try and honestly it doesn’t have to be exactly what I’ve described here. You can do whatever you feel works for you. The point is just to do it and watch how your mind, heart and soul benefit from this kind of meditation. It’s pretty incredible.
I could keep going but I’ll stop here 🙂 I hope you find these tips helpful! If you are struggling now to forgive someone, but feel ready to make some progress, give these tools a try. I promise you they will make all the difference as long as your intention is there and you involve the Lord in all of it. And as someone who has been through a very long and life changing journey of forgiveness, I can say that it is worth the effort to get there. There is no greater relief and inner peace I’ve ever felt than the day I knew I’d forgiven the person who I blamed for so much of my pain for so many years. I wish that same inner peace for you in your journey to forgiveness.