This is a question I had from one of my clients the other day. She hurt me so badly, how can I ever forgive her? I am asked this question, or some variation of it, almost everyday. Why do we have such a hard time forgiving? How come no one ever taught us how to forgive?
Could it be because we believe that it some big, really hard thing to do, and that forgiving someone means that what they did is ok, that it was alright for them to hurt us? Lets look at my favourite definition of forgiveness. It’s amazing where you find things. With all the classes, courses, and books I have been through, I found this on facebook. It is beautiful.
“Forgiveness is the mental, emotional and/or spiritual process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger against another person or yourself for a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.”
There are a lot of other things we can say about forgiveness, how to learn to forgive, why we should forgive, the benefits to you, others and the world in general when you forgive, but this definition is the mechanics of forgiveness. Breaking it down into its simpless form – it is “letting go, submitting, allowing”. When we let go, submit, and/or allow, we pass it up to the Divine to look after. You releave yourself of the burden of carrying around the hostility. When you carry these emotions around with you, you are tied to the past, cannot heal, and cannot move forward even into the present, let alone the future.
Now you may be thinking, yeah, ok, Penny, that’s all well and fine, but how do I forgive someone who has hurt me so badly. And you are right, it is not that easy sometimes. It can be hard work and a bit painful too. You can begin by looking at the situation from a different perspective. No relationship is one sided, it takes two, one to hurt and one to be hurt. So have a look at your role in the event and see how you have contributed to it. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we do play a role in an event where someone has hurt us. If you look at it, this has occurred most likely because you had an unreasonable expectation of the other person involved. Perhaps you feel let down by someone because they couldn’t be there when you needed them for something. Is it reasonable to expect that person to ALWAYS be there whenever you need them. No, it isn’t, they have lives of their own and you have no idea what is happening in it. You may feel you do, but really you don’t. So have a look at your role in the event. Was your expectation reasonable?
Here is some homework for this week. If you are feeling hurt by someone, make a list of what your expectations were in the situation. Be honest, this doesn’t work if you aren’t. List as many expectations as you can, big or small. Now look at them. If you were the other person, would this be a reasonable expectation. Be honest. Don’t try justifying it with statements like , yeah well if she was a friend, she would have. Remember, you do not know what is happening in anyone’s life at a particular moment in time that may have prevented them from meeting that expectation. We they even aware that there was an expectation. Remember also, they may not be honest about why they didn’t meet your expectations.
P.S. its hard, but worth the effort – for you, for everyone involved in the situation, for the Universe. Next week, I’ll give you some more exercises to help you to work on forgiveness.