Forgiveness can lead to the transformation of self and relationships. But the question is, how to forgive when life and people have been so challenging?
How to forgive when you’ve been holding onto hurt for so long
Carrie realized that if she was going to help other women live their best lives she was going to have to figure out how to forgive the people in her life who had hurt her. Holding onto unforgiveness is like a brick in your life. It’s like a brick weighing you down as you are thrown into the water and if you don’t get the brick off, you will drown.
Robyn shared how her anxiety always manifests in her stomach, similar to how Carrie said that the stress and unforgiveness were eating her up from the inside out.
When we have negative emotions, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness, we harbor ourselves physically because of the intricate connection between the brain and body.
How to forgive ourselves knowing that forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves
As Carrie began to study forgiveness, she realized that if she forgave, she would be giving her offenders a free ticket out and they would be able to hurt her again. She was thinking that forgiveness and reconciliation were one and the same, but they are not.
How to forgive when afraid of the past
The first thing Carrie did was to educate herself on what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It doesn’t mean that you have to reconcile with the person or give them a free pass, they still have consequences. We do not have to accept consequences for ourselves or have these people in our lives. Carrie then found the Hawaiian forgiveness prayer, which includes saying thank you. It is also important to ask for forgiveness for harboring anger for so many years. Saying I love to the person who hurt you is also important because you’ll see that they helped you learn more about yourself.
Likewise, saying thank you to your offenders is a key part of being able to forgive. It helps you be aware of the people you hurt as well. Asking for forgiveness is also a huge part of this journey.
And, having gratitude for the person or the emotions you experience can help you grow and move through the pain. Things don’t happen to you, they happen for you. When you see the opportunity for growth or the positive in the experience, which may be hard to do, you can feel gratitude and move closer to forgiveness.
Recognize the power of seeking forgiveness
When we don’t seek forgiveness, we harbor that as guilt and become bitter towards ourselves.
Recognizing that feelings exist is so important for being able to forgive and move forward in life. Some of the symptoms that can be recognized when you are harboring negative feelings and unforgiveness are bitterness, irritability, fatigue, the inability to sleep, feeling bad physically, etc.
When you look at a situation or person who has hurt you, it is important to remember that things don’t happen to you, they happen for you. This is the key to being able to thank someone for the experience you had with them. Realize that you grew as a person and learned more about yourself than you would have otherwise had the opportunity to learn.
Every experience you’ve gone through enables you to help someone else. Forgiveness is such a freeing process. The gift of forgiveness that you give yourself is transforming.
If we don’t forgive, we won’t be able to enjoy the life that God put forward for us.
How to forgive, steps to take to reach forgiveness
Forgiveness is a process. It can be one step forward and two steps back. Even when you forgive, something may trigger you, and you have to then start over.
Journaling is so powerful for forgiveness. Start by writing the person’s name and what they did to you to hurt you. Then write forgive me for holding onto this for so long and let me offer you love as you journey forward.
Forgiveness takes time, especially if you have held onto this for so many years. Sometimes, we can find compassion for what had happened to the person to cause them to do such harmful things to us.
When things happen to children, they don’t have the ability to discern what is happening to them and they carry those things with them and end up performing the same acts to others. This is all part of mental health and if people don’t get the help needed, not only can they not find forgiveness, but they live a very dysfunctional and hurtful life.
Robyn reminded us that Jesus died for our forgiveness and calls us to forgive others. The amount of grace it takes for us to forgive is so much less than the grace we need and what Jesus sacrificed for us.
Quote of the day
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. – Albert Einstein
About Carrie Verrocchio
Carrie Verrocchio is an expert at helping women connect with themselves so they can tap into their lost dreams for their lives and make them a reality. She focuses on women over 50 who have believed the lie that it’s too late to make a change in their lives.
Carrie is a motivational speaker, published author, podcast host, and certified transformation, forgiveness, and grief coach. She is the founder of the Radical Empowerment Method, a program designed to walk people through the exact method she herself used to move from a life of feeling invisible to a life of empowered success and action.
Perhaps the thought of forgiving someone is making you anxious? Start navigating your anxiety around the person you need to forgive by downloading my free eBook, Alleviating Anxiety by Developing Healthy Habits for a Healthy Mind.