Learning how to forgive is a skill we all need. It’s not easy, but the reason to forgive so is so that YOU can move on. Being angry at someone keeps you trapped. Forgiving allows you to move on to greater happiness.
When someone hurts us – we react. We might feel hurt, angry, scared, violated, and out of control. Learn to recognize which emotions are being triggered. Take the time you need to feel the emotions.
But just letting your emotions dominate your experience for too long can keep you locked in their grip. There comes a point when you have to begin a process of letting go of these strong emotions. If you want to be free, learning how to forgive is your best friend.
There is a Hawaiian process of reconciliation called “Ho’oponopono” which means to make things right again once they have been disrupted. It is simple, has just a few steps, and is very powerful in changing the dynamics between people. Normally this is done in a circle, with the entire family or impacted individuals. But you can also do this as a solo process, and the results may astound you.
Step One: How To Forgive
It starts with a decision to forgive. Notice I didn’t say you have to FEEL like forgiving. When you first begin the forgiveness process, chances are the last thing you feel like doing is forgive the one who harmed you. That is why you can’t wait until you FEEL like forgiving. You have to use a different part of your mind, the one that can DECIDE to forgive. Once you make a powerful internal decision that you want to be free of the pain, of the connection to the rage, of the tangled up energy with the other person, you begin the journey towards freedom. So stop reading until you do this step. Choose now to forgive the person or situation – so that you can be free.
Step Two: Find Your Way Back to Your Heart
When we are in a loving state of mind it is easy to forgive. If a puppy you love chews on your homework, or a baby drops a cookie on the floor, you don’t normally get angry, because your heart is open to them, and you can forgive easily. You don’t take their actions personally. You understand that they are just being a puppy, or a baby, and don’t realize how their actions have hurt you.
We need to get that kind of “elevated heart ability” to apply to the situation we are in. Here’s what you need to say, to yourself, or on paper: “I forgive you!” You don’t need to say it to the person (unless you are ready to!) You need to say it to yourself, in your head or out loud. What is important is that you connect to the energy and emotion of forgiveness. This energy will heal your pain.
You may need to do this once, or a hundred times, depending on how much anger and hurt are stored up in the hurtful experience. What begins to happen is that the energy of forgiveness begins to transform the energy of hurt. Sometimes you might not feel it right away, but keep saying “I forgive you,” even if you don’t feel it. Visualize the person or situation as you say it.
Other feelings will surface, which is good. Your anger may even rise as you do this exercise. Think of this as taking out the emotional trash, lots of negative energy and emotions will arise, but this is a good thing because you are learning how to forgive.. This is how you clean out the stored emotions, by letting them come into conscious awareness.
You probably don’t believe this process will work until you try it. It does work. It may or may not work instantly, but you will sense a change as it begins to work over the next few days, as you start to release the unwanted emotions, like emptying a cup, you have room for better and brighter emotions. Remember, the reason you are doing this emotional exercise is to free yourself from carrying the burden of negativity and suffering.
Say “I forgive you,” with as much conviction as you can muster. Repeat it as many times as you need to until these are the only words on your mental radar. Then take a few deep breaths and see how you feel.
Step Three: How to Forgive – Say “I’m sorry!”
Congratulations if you are still reading this article. The next step may be even harder, but it is what really releases the entire emotional ball of wax. While visualizing the person or situation, you are going to say out loud, inside your head, or on paper, the words: “I am sorry!” Say it even if you don’t feel it at all. That is the point of declaring these words, to clear out any opposite feelings you may still be holding, such as a desire to scream at them, tell them what a horrible person they are for hurting you, or even thoughts of causing them harm. We want it all up and out, like getting rid of a toxic poison in your system. We are using good energy, the energy of apology, to flush out the bad energy, the desire for revenge.
This step requires faith that even though you may not feel sorry at all, you can get to the point of genuinely feeling compassion for the person who hurt you. They were just coming from their own wounds, fears, confusion and desperation for control. When you get a glimpse of this truth, the intensity of your own rage begins to subside.
Say “I’m sorry!” as much and as often as you can. At some point, you may choose to say these things to the person. It doesn’t matter if you do. What matters is that your heart changes through the process of releasing your own emotions. When you release anger, sadness, frustration, etc., you have more room in your heart for love, for peace, for freedom.
Freedom is worth forgiving the other person. You win when you are free. You lose when you are trapped in repetitive negative thinking about the person or situation. The more you think about what they did to you, the more you are trapped in the memory and experience with them. Let it go. Life is bigger than this incident.
Step Four: Say: “Please Forgive Me”
The next step can be said to yourself, on paper, or in some cases to the other person. What matters is that you humble yourself so that they can release you. You are not free until all the ties that connect you and the incident are severed. By asking the other person for forgiveness, for whatever you did or didn’t do that inspired their action toward you, you break the cycle of anger. By asking for forgiveness you are owning and recognizing that it takes two to tango in any relationship.
Say “Please forgive me,” inside your own head, or however you want to do it. Scream to the trees. What matters is that you get that energy moving. It is like a cleansing force that releases you from the bondage of the past.
Forgiveness is a great power. It is not for the weak. It takes tremendous courage to release someone from the burden of having hurt you. Forgiveness is the secret to happiness.
We'd be happy to take you through this 4 step process of how to forgive. See below for our phone counseling. A 30 minute session costs $45 and can save you hour of pain!
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