So why does it happen? Why might we find it difficult to forgive? Why might one little thing (or maybe not so little), ruin our sense of peace? Well, it might be that the situation that happened, is of particular importance right now – maybe it happened in public, or involved several people, or maybe it was something that happened repeatedly. Regardless of the circumstances and what did happen, sometimes, try as you might, you just can’t give out that forgiveness to that person (or people) that did you wrong.
But here’s the thing. Almost everywhere you look, you get told how you shouldn’t hold grudges. That you should forgive and forget. That it’s not possible to move on without forgiving what happened in the past and letting it go. Now I’m not one for letting things get to me, but dammit, what if you can’t? What if, for some reason that you just can’t put your finger on, and try as you might, you just can’t forgive? You just can’t let go? I mean, what if you’ve tried absolutely everything you can think of to forgive someone, but it just eludes you? Or, what if, after spending stupid amounts of energy on letting it go and forgiving (and thinking that it’s worked), you get confronted with a situation that triggers all that anger and frustration that you thought you let go? What then? Are you just incompetent?
No, you’re not.
It happens to the best of us. Why? Because we’re human. We live, grow, evolve and experience things through our emotions. They’re a part of us, so it’s no use trying to supress them. You need to feel and experience them. But you can’t just sit in hate and fury, and let it fester. So what do you do? Where’s the balance? How do you forgive and regain your peace? (And in some cases, your sanity.)
Try these steps:
Allow yourself a moment to really feel the emotions related to what happened. If you can, try and identify it, which is about learning more about yourself. Was it anger? Hurt? Frustration? And who is that emotion really directed to? Them or you? Why did you feel what you that?
Accept what happened. It’s in the past and you can’t change how things happened, so don’t waste your time daydreaming about all the “only if I” things that you didn’t do. What happened, happened.
Ask yourself if there’s something that you can learn from this. You clearly didn’t like what did happen, so what you could do differently if a similar situation happened again. Don’t overthink it though. You might have only learned that you don’t like certain behaviours or personality types.
Understand that in the big scheme of things, it probably really doesn’t matter. I mean, it matters for your self growth, because everything teaches us something, but it’s probably not going to be a big hiccup in your timeline, five or ten years from now. This helps with letting it go.
Most importantly, forgive yourself for letting it happen. Forgive yourself for not having the boundaries in place to do or say something different at the time, or for letting yourself get into that situation. Forgive yourself for not acting the way you wish you did at the time. Forgive yourself for letting it all get to you. (If you have a hard time doing this, try the simple Ho’oponopono meditation – there are many versions of them on YouTube. Choose whichever one you feel drawn to.)
This could be included as step six, but whether or not you forgive the other person, is probably irrelevant by this stage. You need to be at peace with yourself. I think that’s more important than whether or not you’ve forgiven someone. (I mean, there are ways of avoiding people, places and situations, but you can’t escape yourself.)
So be at peace with who you are, how you act and react. Accept that you can’t change what happened in the past but that you’re in control of your future. Be okay with the boundaries that you’ve set and how you uphold them. Don’t be concerned with how others might view them. They’re your boundaries, not theirs. If you need to, adjust your boundaries, but only do it for you. Love who you are. All of you – your strengths, your weaknesses, your beauty, your flaws, because all of it makes up you. Be okay with you. Be at peace with you. Because peace within yourself is what really matters. It really does all start with you.