We’ve focused so far on the challenge of forgiving others who have hurt or wronged us, and why not forgiving someone only serves to keep us stuck in place – suffering, feeling resentment that can never be satisfied, and even risking our health in the process.
Well, what if I told you there is an even worse kind of forgiveness issue, that can be even more debilitating? More subtle and sneaky, as well – because it’s also important to realize that forgiveness is NOT just about when others hurt us – a big part of it is about when we have hurt someone else.
So now that you’ve discovered some new ways to handle the pain that’s been inflicted by others, let’s look at how you handle circumstances when you have been the injuring party.
There is a wealth of information in your answers to the following questions, so really take some time to look deeply for what’s there:
- When you realize that you have done something to hurt someone, do you feel ashamed, angry, resentful, self-righteous?
- Do you attempt to minimize the other person’s pain to minimize your own bad feelings?
- Do you judge the other person as too sensitive, or over-reacting?
Think about a time when you hurt someone. No judgments, just awareness.
We’ve all done things that were hurtful at some time in our lives. It may have been completely by accident, or the result of a brief moment of carelessness; it need not have been anything we did out of maliciousness. But since all of us are human, and therefore fallible, we’ve all done things that have hurt someone else.
So take your time with this exploration. Allow yourself to remember a time when someone felt hurt by you. These moments are often harder to recall, because most people have a hard time admitting to them. Take a breath! and allow whatever occurred in the past to be however it was, without trying to change it. Now is the time to acknowledge your humanness. Only then you can move forward.
Use the same four-part process you learned in the first article in this series, this time reversing your role in the equation. Acknowledge who you are, or who you were at the time of the event, and your right to be that person in that moment. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn and grow from the experience. Just give up your right to wish you had be someone else other than exactly who you were. Let yourself off that hook!
Acknowledge that the other person may well have had some part in causing the event, even though it may not feel that way to you now. Identify any ways that the other person could have unknowingly co-created the situation with you, and if you find some, let them off the hook as well.
Acknowledge whatever pain you believe the other person experienced, honor it and allow it to be what it is. You can’t go back and change it, and you can’t take any unhappiness they felt back then and make it better for them, even if you wanted to. Actually, they have the right to their experiences in life, just as you do – even the “bad” ones! Consider that you don’t have the right to deprive them of some potential learning or growth that may have come from being on the receiving end of your error. This may be a very new way of thinking for you, but try it on. You may find that some surprising new insights open up for you.
Finally, identify the valuable learning that you received from the experience. Once you are starting to see beyond the sadness, embarrassment or even shame you felt when it happened, really hone in on what you have learned and how you have grown as a result of that event. See if you can even feel some gratitude about it. If you can’t on the first attempt, come back to it later – you may discover that a nugget of value shows up that you hadn’t seen before.
The process of forgiving yourself and others is one that requires not just your willingness to let go of your pain. It also demands that you be honest with yourself, so that you can move forward in your life without being burdened by your past. “Honesty” doesn’t mean the self-recrimination or any of the other thoughts we sometimes allow to jump in when we look straight at something uncomfortable. Honesty just means calling it what it is, with no exaggeration or denial.
Remember, forgiveness is not about forgetting, but about learning and growing. The courage to be really honest with yourself will pay off in huge benefits, to you and everyone in your life.
As always, I encourage you to give yourself time to sit with your thoughts, your feelings and your desired outcomes for yourself as you go forward in your life. Healing from within is really about looking at yourself more than at the other people in your life, and forgiving yourself is a huge gift that only you can offer – one that can have a major positive impact on the quality of the rest of your life.
I sincerely hope this three-article series has given you some new clarity and power in forgiving yourself and others.
Please feel free to contact me at Loren@wellfromwithin.com or (201) 489-6720 if you have any questions, or if you would like some support in learning how to be really powerful at forgiving in your own life.
Also, don’t forget we have some great opportunities coming up – one of which is tomorrow evening, and is free! – to learn and practice this very skill, that you might want to consider.
Register for tomorrow’s teleseminar, “Anger, Grudges or Forgiveness? How Grudges Destroy Your Life” by clicking HERE. If you can’t make it at 7:30 pm Eastern, don’t worry – it will be recorded, and you’ll be sent a link so you can listen to the replay that will be posted online for 48 hours following the event.
Also, don’t forget that our live, in-person half-day workshop, “Letting Go: The Fine Art of Forgiveness” is happening on Sunday, September 22nd in Hackensack, New Jersey. If you would like to experience a big breakthrough in your ability to forgive yourself and others, that is a great place to strengthen that skill! We hope you’ll join us – find out more and register HERE.