Today I want to talk about forgiveness: What makes it so hard, why it’s essential to accessing happiness, and how to do it.
Forgiveness falls into the “letting go” principle of my GLOW Method - the method I live my life by and the one that has brought me more joy and less angst than I can recount. I believe in GLOW 100%, with every fiber in my body... and yet, sometimes it’s still hard to take my own advice.
Forgiveness is hardest when a raw spot deep in our soul, that has usually been there for a long time, is pierced. A raw spot that houses our most basic and delicate fears. Think about it, you forgive a lot everyday. The small slights, the silly comments, when your kid bonks you on the head with a lego. You let all that go effortlessly.
But, the stuff that sticks with you is the stuff that that prays on your deepest fears and insecurities.
It’s the word the criticizes telling you you’re not enough. It’s the dismissal that says you don’t matter enough to hold my attention. It’s the betrayal that says I don’t deserve love after all. Those are the things that stick, those are the things that are terribly hard to forgive.
Recently, someone said something to me that completely triggered me because it touched my rawest of spots. What he said hurt, he dismissed my feelings for the feelings of someone else. What I heard was “your feelings don’t matter.” What it touched was an old, raw place inside that said “yeah, that’s true, your feelings don’t matter”. It hurt so much that I wanted to scream, hit, cry and rage, but I kept it together (because that’s what we do) and explained that what he said hurt, that it wasn’t ok and he agreed not to do that again.
That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t.
I wasn’t ready to forgive. For the past few days I’ve been stewing in my own shit soup and you know what he’s been doing - nothing. No swimming, or wallowing, because as far as he’s concerned it’s done. And that is why I must forgive, so I can move beyond this shitty space.
Withholding forgiveness isn’t hurting anyone but me. Ironically, the whole thing started with my feelings being hurt and here I am keeping the pain train going. I deserve better than that.
So, how to forgive? Here’s what works best for me.
First, stick up for yourself and tell the person that what they did was not ok.
Second, notice what you are letting their action mean. For me, I let it mean that I didn’t matter.
Third, consider whether what you felt was intended or whether it could have been about them and not you. I’m pretty sure that what was said to me was never intended to communicate “you don’t matter.” Now, we can never truly know the motivations of another person, but nine times out of ten you can come up with another reason they did what they did that’s at least just as plausible as the reason you’re attaching to the situation.
Fourth, if it’s 100% clear that the action was meant to hurt you, that injury was the goal, then you’ve got some serious thinking to do sister, but in the case, as is most often true, there are alternative explanations that have nothing to do with you, then embrace that. He said it meaning one thing, it meant another to me, but he couldn’t have known that nor did he intend it. Or maybe, he just f-ed up (because no one is perfect).
The point is to change the story. It’s not that I don’t matter, it’s that he wanted to keep the peace which is a good intention, he just went about it wrong. That feels so much better than a story that says “I don’t matter.”
Finally, love yourself. Look at that raw spot and tell her you love her. Tell her you know how scary it is when people attack her, but you’ve got her back. She is your number one priority and you will always, always listen to how she feels. Tell her she is safe. Let her know that she matters to you.
Forgiveness is simply a choice we make to access freedom and joy for ourselves. Forgiveness is loving yourself enough to say you deserve better. And, forgiveness is the way you can start to heal your raw spots.
Forgiveness is always available to you.
Have a fabulous week.