Today, I was chatting to a guy to who stole money of mine for drugs (instead of fixing my car), had finished rehab and was going through his out-patient programme. He is now seeking amends and will start paying back my money- but this story is for a whole other day. What I realised today, or should I say was made even more concrete to me is that I have an incredibly difficult time with forgiveness.
I know forgiveness is for the person giving forgiveness and to free themselves of any anger, resentment or guilt. Forgiveness is not accepting bad behaviour or condoning it. Forgiveness doesn’t even have to be articulated to the person you are forgiving. But here I was in front of this guy, listening to him tell me all the right things; saying that he knew it was not enough and that he caused a lot of damage and distrust.
Surely, having heard all of this should have been enough for me to give him a chance to make amends. Forgive but don’t forget, right? But, when I look back to all of the other moments in my life where I have been negatively affected by people, I see that I hadn’t even began to try forgiving them, so how would I start with the heroin addict turned Godly do-gooder?
I don’t think this will be an easy transition. The problem here is how to begin forgiving. What are the steps? Where do I start? I looked at www.medium.com and their basic steps to forgiveness... I’ll give them a go but, whilst I’m at it let me share the steps here. The site says to give ourselves the possibility of forgiving. Sometimes the pain we go through (emotional or physical) can stem from the pain of what others have done to us (even ourselves).
1. Uncover your anger.
Many people bottle up their anger and are too afraid to express it. Medium.com says to journal your anger. Remember your anger from all the moments in your life. Write it down. Allow yourself the chance to express it safely. Confront your emotions and allow yourself to feel them. Allowing them to stay hidden would only hurt you more on a subconscious level.
2. Decide to Forgive.
This is a basic list, okay? So, there could be a lot of other emotions and steps to take to but this one is the next. The site says it’s only natural to hold onto anger when someone has done you wrong. What I was also reminded of when reading this article is that when we are angry with someone, we don’t hurt them, we hurt ourselves. This step though isn’t about waking up one day and suddenly deciding to forgive. It’s about deciding to yourself that you would like to forgive this person or yourself.
3. Work on Forgiveness
The site says try reframing. See the situation in a new light. Yes, I am angry with the drug addict who stole my money. But what if he grew up in a household surrounded in drugs? What if he was kicked out of his home and the only place of refuge was one surrounded with drugs? This doesn’t excuse what he did but, instead makes me see things in a different way and helps to let go of some kind of anger.
4. Release from Emotional Prison
Many people have been hurt. We are not alone in our pain and need to reach out. We should also look at ho we have changed as a result of our experiences. Some consequences may not be good but we have grown quite a bit. You don’t need to be stuck in this emotional prison.
As basic as these steps are, this is really the beginning with so many emotions in between. It is important though to remember to forgive yourself. There could have been things that you did that inadvertently got you into that situation you are upset over. The first person you need to forgive is always yourself. You live in your own head, have to be responsible for yourself and deal with all of those pesky (or amazing) emotions. Be kind to yourself. This is a process for all of us and we can walk through it.