How to Forgive in 5 suggestions, the latest installment from Blare June…
The true act of forgiveness is voluntary and intentional that seems to come easier to some than others. When Kaylee asked me to write about the topic of forgiveness for today’s blog post, I knew I would be able to shed some light on this topic, however, not from personal expertise. Wanting to be honest and forthcoming with Kaylee, I made sure before I started writing to inform her that forgiveness is not something I have personally mastered but instead is something I work on daily.
As a self-proclaimed grudge holder, forgiving another for the hurt he or she may have caused me is not an easy task. We have all, I am assuming, been hurt in our lives by another individual at some point in time. Whether it is by a family member, a colleague, a friend or a romantic partner… most of us (if not all) have been hurt by another’s wrongdoing. Unfortunately, this person is usually a significant part of our lives, and therefore our beliefs about our relationship are quickly altered…and sometimes permanently. Although I continue to work on the act of forgiveness, below are some tips I resort to when deciding to forgive or not. We all have our own unique ways of getting through things, so they all may not resonate with you, but I do hope you find them helpful.
Sleep On It
When we get hurt or feel wronged because of another’s actions, many of us (myself included) act impulsively and react right away. Whether it is quickly sending a reply text to that friend who hurt you or calling your best girlfriends to rant about your partner’s recent foul behavior…my advice is to withhold from responding and instead to sleep on it. Over time, I have worked on withholding my anger and redirecting my energy temporarily. Whether it is watching a TV episode with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s (I know very cliché and Bridget Jones of me) or writing all your thoughts down on paper, waiting at least 12 hours and sleeping on the event will serve you well in the long run. The following morning, although likely still very hurt and angry, your head will often be clearer to process the recent event more rationally and from different perspectives. For some cases, the impulsive phone call or text message may be the last correspondence you have with this other individual…you will want to make sure it counts.
Forgive & Forget
I used to always believe that forgiveness was a synonym for reconciliation. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When forgiveness is granted, it does not necessarily mean that the relationship resumes to where it was before you got hurt. Instead, the forgiver is in the driver seat and can direct where the relationship will go. Lauren Conrad said it best when speaking with her ex-best friend in the hit reality TV show, The Hills. What Lauren probably didn’t know when she said the now highly memed phrase, ‘I want to forgive you and I want to forget you,’ is that she helped individuals (myself included) understand that forgiving can be beneficial to the hurt individual. Holding on to resentment and grudges can not only be exhausting but can result in symptoms of low mood and anxiety, causing more pain in the end. When you truly forgive another individual, you are letting go of the hurt and pain that was caused and redirecting this energy in more positive directions.
Although forgiving and forgetting is an option, so too is moving on with the relationship. When I do decide to forgive, and move on with a friendship or romantic relationship, I make it very clear to myself (and sometimes I even write it down) on the speed I want to take things and the boundaries I will put into action. Depending on the event, I often (if not always) go back into a relationship with ease and caution. Trust is not automatic but is earned over time.
Let It Go
If you do decide to forgive an individual and move on with the relationship, although I do think boundaries and time are important, you must let it go….and I mean completely. For example, if your partner has been unfaithful or your business partner has been untrusting, if you are truly going to continue with the relationship moving forward, the event in question can’t be used as bait. It isn’t fair to you or the other individual if the event keeps getting brought up over and over. Although you will likely never truly forget the event, true forgiveness includes moving on and letting it go (with boundaries of course).
Fool Me Once
The saying ‘Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me’ couldn’t be more important to reflect on if you do decide to continue with a relationship. Although you may have forgiven the other individual and let it go, you still need to be smart. If the hurtful behavior continues to occur over and over, in my opinion it is time to resort to Forgive and Forget and move on once and for all. Forgiving another takes courage and incredible strength…but let’s not be stupid about it…right? Regardless of how you decide to approach the next time you feel betrayed or hurt by another, it is important to make sure that you are staying true to yourself and your own needs. Sometimes it may feel easier to ‘keep the peace’ but in the end doing what will be best for you in the long run is what is important.
Photo by Raelene Giffin