How To Forgive
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Forgiveness Is at the Core of Resolving All Anger and Emotional Healing
“We attach our feelings to the moment when we were hurt, endowing it with immortality. And we let it assault us every time it comes to mind. It travels with us, sleeps with us, hovers over us while we make love, and broods over us while we die. Our hate does not even have the decency to die when those we hate die–for it is a parasite sucking OUR blood, not theirs. There is only one remedy for it.”
[forgiveness] Lewis B. Smedes
We’ve all been hurt and we’ve all been taught about forgiveness. But why is forgiveness so difficult? Perhaps one reason is because you haven’t been able to define forgiveness, or you think to forgive is to forget, or you don’t seem to have the ‘feeling’ of forgiveness. You may understand forgiveness logically, and you agree it’s the ‘right thing to do’, but you simply don’t know how. If so, you’re not alone. I hope the information you find here will help.
On This Page…
- What Is Forgiveness?
- 7 Facts About Forgiveness
- 7 Reasons To Forgive
- How Do I Know If I Need To Forgive Someone?
- Victims of Crime and Help With Trauma
- Can EMDR Help With Forgiveness?
- Forgiving Someone Today
What Is Forgiveness?
- Forgiveness is a decision to see the person as flawed.
- Forgiveness is deciding not to rehash the ‘story’.
- Forgiveness does not mean you have to reunite with the person.
- Forgiveness does not require emotions or feelings.
- Forgiveness allows you to take back your emotional power.
- Forgiveness is giving up the desire for revenge.
- Forgiveness can be an ‘intellectual’ decision.
- Forgiveness is not a ‘feeling’.
- Forgiveness is NOT forgetting.
7 Facts About Forgiveness
- Forgiving someone does not mean they will change.
- Your peace is found in changing your mind, not in trying to change the person who hurt you.
- Each time you forgive, you’re forgiving a part of yourself.
- You can choose to NOT have a relationship with the person.
- You don’t need the other person’s participation.
- You will always remember what happened.
- You do not need to understand or try to make sense out of what happened. Oftentimes, there will be no answers.
7 Reasons To Forgive
- Your heart is changed. Your attitudes are changed and you free yourself from the emotional bondage of the toxic effects of unresolved anger.
- You release resentments. No more energy spent on analyzing, over working, compulsively thinking about the person. Resentments fade.
- You see the flaws in the other person, and recognize how limited humans can be . . . including yourself. Life is about making mistakes and learning lessons.
- You stop thinking about revenge. Negative energy that interferes with your emotional and physical well being are replaced with positive thoughts.
- Benefits of forgiveness may include: Clearer thoughts, ability to focus on your life goals, your relationships will be healthier, an increase in energy, have fewer physical ailments, and increase your self esteem. Liberated from the anger of the past, you are free to live in the present, giving full attention to your life now . . . not spending precious energy rehashing the past.
- Compassion replaces bitterness and anger. Your heart softens. You don’t take yourself and your life so seriously.
- You have an opportunity to start over with the person you forgive, learn lessons and move forward. (If they still remain in your life.)
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”
How Do I Know If I Need To Forgive Someone?
If someone has hurt you, broken your heart, abused you, either in childhood or as an adult, and you feel angry, bitter or want revenge, you most likely have not forgiven that person.
If the wrong doing of someone else has strongly affected you, many areas of your life may have been disturbed. The betrayal of adultery, for instance, may have involved a divorce, hurt for your children, financial stress, relocating, harmed your self esteem and left your life in shambles. You may even have misplaced guilt or distortions about guilt and anger.
Therapists know that frozen anger and unresolved painful emotions are at the core of unforgiveness. The key in determining if you need to forgive someone is found in how much anger you still have. Let’s start with a little quiz and find out how much unresolved anger might be affecting your life:
- Are you a ‘loner’?
- Are you afraid of intimacy?
- Do you want revenge against someone?
- Do others see you as hard to get to know?
- Do you project your anger onto others?
- Do you feel depressed most of the time?
- Do you ever feel bitter about how your life has gone so far?
- Do you avoid thinking or talking about the times you’ve
been hurt by others?
- Do others mentioned you might have an ‘anger problem‘?
Two YES answers–you may have anger and forgiveness issues.
Three YES answers–you most likely have anger issues.
Four or more YES answers–the quality of your life may be at risk, and you may be prone to relationship or health problems.
Victims of Crime and Trauma
In some cases, such as with victims of crime, or those traumatized by another, may not have fully dealt with the intense emotions of the event. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a clinical diagnosis having to do with frozen emotions and disturbing memories surrounding the traumatic event. Trauma involves a highly emotional situation, usually involving danger, terror or fear. For Victims of Crime, returning to normal life is often an ongoing process. Forgiveness cannot be done without processing the pain first.
When a person goes straight to forgiveness quickly after being hurt, they are most likely attempting to avoid the emotional pain associated with the traumatic experience. People who have been deeply injured or emotionally wounded need time to deal with the effects on their life. But when time comes for forgiveness, you regain your personal power, and you will have the last word.
Can EMDR Help With Forgiveness?
Yes. You may have difficulty forgiving another person, but you also may need to forgive yourself. If you are struggling with the concept of forgiveness, or want to stop carrying the heavy emotional burden of anger, resentment, bitterness, or revenge, you may want to schedule a with Dr. Lynne to obtain objective and professional support to begin your healing process. There is hope and there is help. You don’t need to suffer another day. Dr. Logan is a Certified EMDR Therapist.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), is a powerful and often rapid therapeutic technique, and can be used by a trained EMDR therapist to help you effectively deal with forgiveness issues, as well as anger, guilt and disturbing memories which you believe prevent you from forgiving. EMDR is a breakthrough technique for dealing with many emotional issues. EMDR information can be found on this website.
Forgiving Someone Today
Tired of Anger? Tired of feeling hurt? Tired of bitterness? Guilt getting in the way of forgiveness? Are you ready to forgive? Before you do the following forgiveness exercise, read and ponder the thoughts below. You can begin today to forgive, and release yourself from emotional bondage with the following exercise:
- Think back over your entire life, including your childhood. Make a
list of ten people who hurt you. When you think of each person,
what emotions come up? Anger? Bitterness? Revenge? Guilt?
Write the feelings down next to their name, and any other feelings
you might have. This may take you a few hours or even spread out
over several days to complete.
- When you’ve completed your list and written your feelings down,
write a short letter to each person. The letter will have two short
paragraphs. The first paragraph states why you’ve been angry and
the second paragraph about your decision to forgive. Remember,
you do not have to have any feelings or emotions attached to the
letter. You are intellectually making the decision, not emotionally.
- When you have completed the letter, wad the paper up into a tight
ball with your fist, compressing it as small as you can. Then, do one
of the following things with it:
- Burn it in the fireplace
- Throw it in the trash
This is a healing exercise for you, not intended to send the letter to the person. You may decide to do this with your therapist. It won’t take long, and you will be well on your way to emotional freedom.
You must make the decision
You will not remain stuck in your bitterness and hate.
You must have grieved your injury and your loss,
and felt the primal pain within your soul.
The die has been cast,
and you must admit your heart
has been permanently scarred
and your life is forever changed.
You must decide the rest of your life
will not be emotionally controlled by
the harmful acts of another.
Be brave . . . you will heal.
No matter how difficult the circumstances are,
God, time and forgiveness will help you heal.