The Ultimate Freedom: Forgiving & Letting Go
Your heart is too small to continue to carry painful experiences in it, all because you refuse to forgive! You should be tired of allowing people you haven’t forgiven to take up space in your mind. It is probably more than past the time for you to let it go, let them go, forgive, and live! You will find freedom, relief, as well as inner and outer peace when you give yourself permission to forgive.
Forgiving as a Process
Moving to a point of forgiving a friend or loved one for an atrocity committed against you is predicated on the level of the relationship that you had with him/her, as well as how you define friendship and how you define love. If there has been a true relationship and a true friendship with the person you feel has betrayed you and the relationship was seasoned with love, forgiving that person is much more plausible.
Forgiving is a process, not an event. Here are several steps necessary for you to enact forgiveness with the person(s) you have been carrying in your heart and in your mind:
- Decide how extreme the unforgiving situation is/was and determine the damage done to you and/or your loved ones, etc.
- Assess associated emotions that are blocking you from forgiving this person.
- Assess how much the individual means to you.
- Decide if the relationship is worth salvaging; do you want to recover it?
- Develop a written list of pros and cons about salvaging the relationship.
- Be honest with yourself and decide if you can forgive, if you want to forgive and if you can let go (some people unknowingly revel in the misery of not forgiving).
- Develop a list, detailing what it will take for you to forgive the individual.
- List what you need from him/her to forgive, including any compromises; be reasonable, specific and not demanding.
- Practice saying, “I forgive you” to him/her in your mirror.
- Be willing to accept a sincere apology that starts with the words, “I am sorry for …”
- Contact the person and arrange to meet in a non-threatening and non-territorial place.
- Put your feelings of anger and angst aside, ready to listen and be receptive.
- Share with him/her the impact the atrocity has had on you, using "I" messages, such as “I was devastated,” “I felt betrayed,” “I was disappointed,” etc.
- Share your “what it will take” list with him/her.
- Share what you need from him/her in order for you to forgive him/her.
- If he/she is willing to meet your requested needs and apologizes, move to the next step; if not, end the meeting, move on with your life and let go!
- Say the three words and mean it: “I forgive you.”
- Go a step further by saying, “I forgive you and I am willing to let go and try to forget.”
- Agree to talk again to begin to reestablish your relationship; it will never be the way it was, but this is always a place to start from.
Take a deep breath, release, and begin to feel the weight(s) that have been lifted from your mind, your heart, and your shoulders. You have forgiven — you have let go. Good for you! You are now free to be you!
By Joyce Morley, Ed.D.
Learn How to Forgive
Joyce Morley, Ed.D. is an author, radio/TV host, motivational speaker, psychotherapist and executive/relationship/life coach. She may be reached on her website at doctorjoyce.com and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.