HOW I FORGAVE WHAT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE TO FORGIVE
I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry, and accept an apology I never received.
I am often asked how did I move on after my devastating break-up. How could I be so big about things and not seek some kind of sweet revenge for breaking my heart? Why do I not wish my ex an ill-fate? Still today after almost 4 years, I have friends who would likely slash his tyres if they crossed paths with him; but I don’t feel that way at all.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always like this. I did wish he would never move on and find another woman; but obviously he did. I wished she would be a bitch and make him miserable so that he would realise what he lost in me. I wanted him to be lonely and lost like I was. I wanted him to feel every ounce of the pain he inflicted on me, ten-fold. But while I was having these thoughts; it was impossible for me to live a complete life. I was so focussed on the past and how I wanted to go back; relive it; change it etc. that it consumed me. If I wasn’t focussed on the past, I was focussed on how to manipulate the future so that it could somehow make up for the past. What I was not doing was living in the present.
It took me awhile to realise this. I was exhausted from the constant madness going on in my head; the never-ending Facebook stalking; the persistent need to find excuses to make contact with him; the flooding of tears. I couldn’t any more. Looking back, I’m ashamed of that behaviour; but I couldn’t see what I was doing. When I finally let go; when I finally forgave; it was like a burden of 1000 tons was lifted off me. When I accepted that it cannot be changed; and that the outcome was ok; and I can be ok as well; only then did I start living my life again.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
Lewis B. Smedes
Watch this episode the Learn to Fly podcast and find out about some of the specific steps I took. If you would prefer to listen to the audio only, the audio file is just below the video.
Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.
Top points from the podcast
- Write a letter. This will help you work through your emotions. Emotions that are not dealt with will fester and grow. Write this letter directly to the person who hurt or disappointed you (you won’t be sending the letter). Say what you would have liked to have said to their face; all the hurt, all the betrayal, all the anger. This is particularly important if the circumstances of the betrayal has not allowed you to face the person.
- Acknowledge your own role in the situation. Sometime what went wrong, may have resulted out of circumstance that you allowed to be created. Perhaps you tolerated other behaviour and over time it escalated. Perhaps you did not communicate your needs clearly. Perhaps the person’s behaviour was a response to something you did. This does not mean that you let the person off the hook. But, it does mean that one acknowledges that often there are many dynamics within a betrayal including our own contribution. We need to recognise and take responsibility for our own role.
- Be humble. Most people don’t hurt us purposefully. Most people did not set out to cause harm. It is important to realise that we are human. ALL of us at some time or another have disappointed another person. When we have empathy and put ourselves into the shoes of our trespassers then we can see that in all likelihood they are human beings with human flaws and just like us they do not want to be defined by a single mistake.
What if the hurt is too great and I can’t let go?
- Ask yourself: “What is the kind of life that I want to live? What is the kind of person that I want to be? What kind of impact do I want to make on the world?”
- Then ask: “If I don’t let go, am I enabling or disabling this life I want to live?” In most cases the answer will be that you are disabling the life you want to live. So therefore, who are you really hurting? Our inability to forgive seldom harms the person who hurt us; but it always harms us.
How do we allow ourselves to trust again?
- Read this
To heal a wound you need to stop touching it.
It’s easier said than done
I was exceptionally fortunate to be in a position of being surrounded by great support when I went through this life-changing journey. Perhaps had I not had that support, things may have turned out differently; and today, I could be bitter, negative, sad and living a life of little meaning. It’s my mission to share what I have learned the hard way, so that you too can find the meaning, fulfillment and joy you deserve.
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A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
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What are your thoughts?
I would love to hear from you. What has your experience been with this topic? Do you have some tips or strategies in addition to the one’s mentioned above? Maybe you have a burning question? Perhaps you have the solution to someone else’s question.
The best growth and learning comes from engagement and sharing, please comment below and share your thoughts, questions and personal experiences.