In my previous post, I explained what forgiveness really means and why it is important for us.
Basically, forgiveness is the art of letting go. We stop remembering the sad past to welcome fresher and more beautiful moments.
Life becomes a lot more enjoyable when we can forgive easily because we won’t let stuff bother us too much then. Imagine if you could simply pack all your worries and past aches and throw them down the drain. Imagine this as if it was really truly possible. How amazing would life be!
You would be so perfectly happy if you could let go, if the stuff that bothered you, simply stopped bothering you one day. But guess what, you’re in control. You’re in control of choosing what bothers you and what doesn’t.
Yes, forgiveness is not the easiest skill, but it is surely learnable. Point is, we can all learn to forgive. All we need to do is practice and stay at it.
As you keep going, you’ll keep feeling lighter each passing day. Soon, there will be a day when you wouldn’t be holding grudges with your ex or the family member who ruined your life. How powerful and uninhibited you’ll be then!
So with those encouraging words, let’s touch upon a few tips on forgiveness.
1. Forgiveness lies within.
The very basic thing that we need to be absolutely truly clear about is that letting go has got nothing to do with the person you forgive, nothing at all. It is only linked to us inside.
The only person you have to work upon is yourself. You don’t have to physically talk with the person/situation you are forgiving, especially if talking might complicate stuff further, like at a workplace with your boss or in tricky family relationships.
Forgiveness involves looking deep within and changing our perception.
Don’t worry if this sounds hard, we’ll be covering lots of possible ways very soon and you’ll surely find method(s) that work for you.
2. Start small.
It is wiser to build your forgiving muscles step-by-step. Begin with issues that you find only mildly irksome, like maybe a rude waiter or somebody who cut you off while driving. Save the bigger ones for later.
Forgive the smaller stuff that doesn’t stick to you too much before proceeding to tackle bigger issues. This way, you’ll have more confidence and you’ll feel stronger moving ahead.
3. Forgive yourself.
We are often our worst critiques. Notice your self talk. Are you constantly reprimanding yourself for not doing something sooner, or for not saying something right, etc? Then maybe it’s time to free yourself of this guilt.
It’s really important to set yourself free first so you can release internal hurt and pain.
Imagine your current self as separate from you and talk to your younger version. Start loving yourself instead. Start treating yourself with compassion and tell yourself that you did the best you could at the time.
4. Forgive anything and everything.
You can forgive anything that bothers you – a person, a thing, a circumstance. You can forgive your spouse, or a printer, or even an issue that’s bugging you like climate change.
Sounds bizzarre, doesn’t it? Isn’t it foolish to be forgiving a printer or climate change?
Yes, it does sound a bit bizarre, but who cares if it’s buying you peace. And no, it is not foolish at all, very much the contrary.
Remember that the main aim of forgiving is to free up your mental space so that you are not caught up in a negative rigmarole. Who you are forgiving isn’t the point at all.
You want to claim your own space back by letting go of frustration and pain of something. If something annoys you even the teeniest bit, it warrants letting go of the annoyance, it warrants forgiveness.
Coming back to the printer, you’ll see that once you’ve taken time to forgive your printer, your thoughts move away from the frustration of it not working properly. Rather, solutions will start popping up in your mind.
5. Forgiveness happens in stages.
Forgiveness is akin to peeling an onion. We let go of one layer and another layer shows up.
It’s just that we’ve all got layers and layers of stuff that we’ve accumulated over the years.
Just like any detoxification program, where the body revolts after it is suddenly being fed good and healthy food, releasing can also flare up past memories.
But this isn’t bad news, it’s good news.
This means that your forgiveness practice is working. Now you have access to stuff that was bothering you inside at an even deeper level that you were not even of. So finally you can let go of these memories too and fully heal yourself.
After all this background talk, I am sure you are curious to find out how we can actually let go. I’ll start with one of my favorite forgiveness techniques. I hope you find this useful, but if not, don’t worry, there are numerous other ways too that I’ve covered later.
1. Get into a meditative state.
Forgiveness is the easiest when we are in a meditative state. This is a state where we have paused our chattering mind so that we can go within.
Use whatever technique works best for you to get into a meditative state, and when you are in a calm state, proceed to the next step.
If you don’t meditate, don’t be disheartened, you can still proceed with this exercise. Start when you’re feeling your best self, like early in the morning, or after a beautiful long walk, or anything else that gets you happy and upbeat.
2. Validate how you felt when you were wronged.
Once you have quietened your mind, think about the circumstance you want to forgive, and lay out all your feelings against it.
Mentally say what hurt you. Recognize and validate how you felt when you were wronged. Let all your trapped emotions come out.
Don’t think about how someone else will react to your side of the story. This is your safe space. You are the only listener to your story. So pour your heart out knowing that you are being fully understood and validated.
You might get out of your meditative or calm state by airing all your emotions. So just take a break and try getting to a calm/meditative state again.
3. Try to think from their point of view.
Now that you’ve gotten all your feelings out, try to consider the scenario from their point of view so that you can soften the perception for yourself.
You could think that maybe they were going through a really bad phase, maybe they didn’t even realize that they were harming you, maybe this was the only way they knew, maybe they didn’t know any better…
The reasons you find here need not be true. You’re only finding these reasons so that you can feel better about the past. Even if an explanation isn’t correct, it can still be helpful. Forgiveness is not for them, it’s for you, remember?
4. Contemplate what you learned from the experience.
All the terrible stuff that happens in our life, it is terrible, but it also makes us grow in the long run.
Think about how this event made you a better person. What things do you know now that you did not know earlier? Have you been surprised by your inner strength? Do you think you are more aware now, and maybe a wiser person?
Acknowledge the good that has come from the situation and pat yourself for how far you’ve come.
5. Let go
Inhale a deep breath, and with your exhale, let go of the situation. Connect with your higher presence inside, ask for their support and decide to let go.
If you’ve done all the steps above, you should be able to release a lot of the tension and set yourself free.
If you find it too difficult to completely let go, that’s understandable too. Avoid judging yourself. Just know that you’re on the right path and that one day, you will be free. You are making tremendous streaks, even if it doesn’t always seem like it.
Other ways to forgive
Even if it doesn’t feel like it, trust that you’re already making a lot of progress with forgiveness and your internal healing.
Take it easy, baby steps go a long way. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Here are some more ways to be able to let go. There might be a few that resonate with you more, so I’d encourage you to pick the techniques that call out to you the most.
Let all your feelings out.
Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed for some time and write a letter to the person who hurt you. Write whatever comes to your mind.
Don’t worry about your handwriting or the spellings or anything else, simply write your heart out. Let out all your thoughts, your frustrations, and anger.
Remember, this letter is so that you can release your feelings. No one else has to ever read it unless you want them to.
Imagine that as you are writing, all the bitterness deep inside you is moving out from your body onto the page.
Letting all your feelings come out is a precursor to letting them go. Once you’ve got your emotions out, you’ll be in a much better state to let go.
Tell yourself that you can choose to not be hurt anymore.
Sometimes our feelings with something can be so strong that we get stuck in them. We feel so deeply hurt and shocked, that we can’t stop replaying the event over and over again in our mind, causing ourself further pain.
Trying to fully forgive here is difficult because it is a huge ask to be able to let go and not feel any pain at all.
So how about going only going half way instead? How about saying that you can choose to not be hurt anymore by choosing to not repeat the painful story again?
Not repeating the painful saga anymore is the first step towards clearing up your mind. In time, the hurt will subside because you are letting it settle down by not refreshing it all the time.
Think of them as a human being.
It is especially hard to let go of the mistakes done by some authority figures, such as our parents or teachers. They obviously should have known what they were doing because they are much older to us and because we truly depended on them at some stage.
We often go down the road of asking why all this happened to us? Why they did something? And why they didn’t do something?
But this thinking will get us nowhere. It’s all in the past anyways. Plus, forgiveness isn’t forgiving them. Forgiveness is forgiving ourselves of that memory.
Instead, consider thinking that they are simply humans. They are not perfect. Maybe they were learning too even though they were in charge. Or maybe, they just aren’t capable of their responsibility.
Be your higher self.
Recall the times when you’ve made a mistake and they forgave you. Can you do the same?
I love this quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer encouraging us to keep our ego in check.
Focus on the present, the here and now.
Now is the time to let go. Let go of the past, and stop reliving it. You can’t undo the past, but you can make today the best day of your life.
Try to find joy in all that you have today. Celebrate all the goodness that you can today.
Appreciate things that are working out for your currently. These could be the simplest pleasures like clean drinking water or food to eat or a bed to lie on, not everybody in the world is blessed with these basic necessities.
Past memories will creep in for sure, but try to not give them too much attention. Bring your focus again to the present. Maybe say something like, “Cancel, cancel, cancel” and get back to the present.
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Looking for more ideas to forgive? I’ll be writing another post soon.
Until then, wish you the best for developing your forgiveness skills. Forgiveness can sometimes be a tough skill to learn, but it is well worth the effort to increase your wellbeing and overall happiness.
You’ll get better and better at forgiveness. Just keep the faith, keep going and share your progress here.