We are emotional beings. In the way we communicate with others, we constantly exchange emotions created by our words and actions. When someone who is close to us and for whom we deeply care does something that upsets us, or makes us angry, often we find ourselves dwelling with negative emotions and anger we find hard to overcome. When this feeling is at its peak, we know that we will never be able to forgive this person and every time we think about them the negative feelings will resurface. On the other hand, when the anger and resentment eat us inside, we realize there needs to be a better way to deal with this before it causes irreversible damage. How do we forgive someone? How do we let go of anger and resentment so we can find a way to move on? Here are 10 steps that will enable you to overcome these negative thoughts and help you extend forgiveness to the person who has hurt you.
1. Leave the past behind. Whether we realize it or not, often times we live in the past. We need to learn to stop and appreciate the present moment while we can. Past is past and it should stay there. This does not mean we don’t learn from it and forget about it but it means we should take the lesson and use it wisely for our future. So stop, take a deep breath and realize what’s done is done and there is nothing you can do to change it. But there are many things you can do to not let it hurt you anymore. So your first step to forgiveness is to accept that past stays in the past.
2. Practice mindfulness meditation. This special type of meditation teaches us how to be in the present moment and keep our focus on this very moment. It gives us relaxation and a sense of calmness that rejuvenates us from inside out. It is a great way to learn to let go of unnecessary thoughts and destructive emotions. It gives us awareness to use our 5 senses in a better way. It also keeps us grounded and regulates our breathing. As a result we feel less anxiety and less stress.
3. Write down your feelings. This is the best way to understand why we feel what we feel. It is also a kind of self confession. When we write things down, we solidify them in a sense. This gives us the ability to take a step back and analyze ourselves like an outsider, a third party if you will. It helps us approach the issues in a more objective way.
4. Figure out why you are letting this hurt you and make you angry so much. Why are we more sensitive and less tolerant when it comes to certain things and what makes us stronger when it comes to other things? Deep down inside, there is a weak spot there. And it is there for a reason. With complete honesty, turn into yourself and ask yourself questions to find out why and when you answer them be as brave as you can. In the end, remember, you are doing this for yourself. For your own spiritual growth.
5. Take responsibility for your own mistakes. When you start writing down why you are feeling so hurt and angry, also think about writing down what you think you might have done wrong that could possibly cause someone to act a certain way towards you. In the end, we are all connected through our emotions, energies, we are all one in the Universe and we communicate through vibrations. These vibrations go back and forth throughout the universe and each action creates a certain reaction. Before you put the blame entirely on someone else, look into yourself and analyze your mistakes too.
6. Accept that no one is perfect. When it comes to our own actions, we find it easier to say “well I’m only human and I’m not perfect” but we are not as generous with others as we are with ourselves. Why should we expect perfection when perfection itself does not exist? Why should empathy and compassion be offered to us and why should we not try to offer it to others the same way we expect it shown to us? There is no doubt that in our minds and in our hearts we know that no one is perfect, it is only a matter of learning to put it into practice and be more patient and understanding when we deal with pain and anger.
7. Talk to someone else about your situation. Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed it makes us feel stuck. Every time we try to take a step forward we find ourselves hitting a wall because we are so consumed by our pain and anger and this blocks our thought processing. Sometimes talking to someone else can help you because they might be able to make you see the bigger picture and show you options you didn’t realize were available to you. Talking to someone else also helps us release our tension and stress and gives us a friendly support that makes us feel not so lonely and desperate.
8. Let go of resentments and grudges. Stop and think for a minute how much energy you put into this. Do you realize how holding grudges and feeling resentments will suck up your energy? The energy you can put into good use for yourself and for the Universe. The energy that can help you get through your day instead of making you feel down and unhappy. Transform this energy into something positive and you will see how much it will change your life and the way you perceive things. You will feel the weight lifted off of your shoulders and you will feel the relief from letting go. Think of yourself as a feather floating in the air, you are weightless and you are peaceful. Forgiving is good for your peace of mind, it does not make you a weaker person, it makes you a stronger one.
9. Do not wish bad things upon anyone. In the midst of anger and pain, we sometimes find ourselves doing this. We want revenge, we want to somehow get even. We can not control our thoughts and emotions and end up wishing bad things upon the person who hurt us. But remember, everything we give, comes back to us. One of the rules of karma. Use your energy to wish good things for that person and ask the Universe to show them the right way so they can understand what they did and get a chance to fix things. You need to do this wholeheartedly and honestly. In the end, we can’t fight fire with fire, it will only make the fire grow.
10. Let time pass and when it feels right, communicate with that person. It is hard to communicate when our emotions dominate us because in that moment we care more about being heard than listening. We might say things we don’t really mean and we can never take them back. When this happens, take time out, however long it takes. Sometimes it might be a few hours, sometimes a few years, depending on how we handle things. When you feel the time is right and if the other person is willing too, sit down and communicate and explain how you felt and how much you were hurt and why. Talk to them openly but also listen to them without judgement, put yourself in their shoes and see things from their point of view as well. Nothing can take the place of a mature, compassionate conversation where both parties are willing to help and understand each other.