“When we’ve been treated deeply unfairly by others, we should have the tools to deal with that so the effects of that injustice don’t take hold in an unhealthy way.” ~ Dr. Robert Enright
We have all experienced betrayal. We have all felt the immense pain of being mistreated, cheated on, or replaced by someone we deeply loved.
The hurt may not come only from a romantic partner, it may come from your parents, your friends, colleagues… from every person that is close enough to you thus able to wrong you in some way.
Every person reacts differently to being hurt and let down. Some people are neutral, others are impulsive, and some find it extremely difficult to let go of the pain and move on. And those emotions can be deeply ingrained into the person’s psyche because the brain links emotions to a particular situation to create a memory.
In other words, we tend to remember things that had a great emotional impact on us – good or bad. And when we experience negative emotions it is essential for us to resolve them as soon as possible because our mental health can suffer.
But, why is it so hard to forgive someone?
The ability to forgive someone may be the most powerful thing that a person can do. And forgiveness doesn’t mean that you absolve the other person from all the pain they have caused you. No. Forgiveness is a choice. It’s you choosing to release the negative feelings that are building inside you.
It’s you, understanding that you are only responsible for your actions, not the actions of others. It’s you, deciding to act and forgive someone because you don’t want to feel bad anymore. Because you are responsible for your emotions as well.
So, how to forgive someone?
1. Understanding that forgiveness is possible. You can’t forgive someone if you don’t truly believe that you are able to forgive them.
2. Decide to forgive. You can’t force yourself to forgive someone. You must make the conscious choice that you want to forgive.
3. Make a list of everyone that has wronged you in some way. Then order the names on the list beginning with the person who has hurt you the most.
4. Feel and expose the anger. Experiencing the emotion is a crucial step towards forgiveness. Expose the build-up anger and feel its physical consequences.
5. Commit to the act of forgiveness. After you have felt the bad effect of the anger, make the necessary commitment to let it go because you don’t want to feel unhappy and negative again.
6. Consider the other person and acknowledge their humanity. Try to think of the person in a different way. Understand that they are human beings also and they are prone to make mistakes, just as you are. No one is perfect after all.
7. Soften your heart. You might not be aware of it, but the pain can harden your heart. Practice compassion and you will be readier to forgive.
8. Take the pain. Pain is a normal reaction to betrayal. But the pain can be also a part of the healing process. When you can feel it, you can also release it.
9. Reflect, discover, and repeat the process whenever you want to forgive someone.