What’s the difference between truly forgiving and just sweeping your feelings under the rug? My angry feelings show back up whenever I have to face or talk to people who have injured me. How can I get past this stage and truly forgive and forget, and care about them again?
Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
You aren’t moving past this offense because you are still looking at it the same way you were when you got offended. Nothing will change until you can shift your perspective and look at the incident more clearly. When you see yourself, the other person and the situaiton accurately, forgiving gets easier.
So the question is, how can you look at this situation more accurately?
Get out some paper and and a pen. Go through the following steps, writing down how each could change your perspective on this specific situation.
1. Are you seeing yourself accurately?
Do you realize that your value is infinite and absolute?
Your value comes from the fact that you are an amazing, divine, one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable soul. So, your value doesn’t change and you cannot be diminished. No matter what someone else does or says about you, you are the same you.
No offense can hurt you without your permission. If you know who you are, and refuse to be hurt, attacks could bounce off.
Holding onto anger, hurt and angst doesn't do you any good. It doesn't punish the other person, it doesn't protect you and it doesn't make you feel better.
Choosing to forgive makes you feel better. You feel strong, mature and wise when you love people who don't deserve it. (That doesn't mean you trust this person again; it just means choosing to love them, in their flaws, because it's better for you.)
2. Are you seeing the other person accurately?
Like all of us, the person who hurt you is afraid he isn't good enough. This fear creates our immature, selfish, unkind behavior. This fear keeps you focused on your own needs and prevents you from loving other people.
Can you see this fear (of not being good enough) in the person who offended you? Can you see that this fear drives 90 percent of his behavior?
Can you see that this person is desperately in need of validation, and he might cast other people as the bad guy so he can feel superior? Can you see that in this situation?
Most people are doing the best they can with what they know at the time. The problem is they don’t know much, so their behavior is lacking. Most people are not out to hurt you and they don’t have evil intentions. They are probably intending to be a good person, they just get afraid and behave badly at times. Can you see this behavior behind the intentions of the person who hurt you?
(There are some people who are evil and intend to hurt others, but they are rare. If you encounter this type of person you must see him accurately and understand he isn't capable of better behavior and it isn't about you.)
3. Can you see this situation accurately?
Do you understand that life is a classroom, and this person is in your life to teach you something?
The people who hurt you are important teachers because they give you a beautiful opportunity to step it up and be more mature, loving and wise. This situation might be giving you a chance to step back and gain a more mature mindset or overcome your fears. What could this situation be here to teach you?
This situation is also showing you things about yourself. It might be showing you how strong your own fear (of not being good enough or approved of) is.
This other person might be serving as a mirror for you, to show you things about yourself you need to see. Make a list of this person's faults. Then take each statement and flip it so it’s now about you. "He doesn’t care about my feelings," will become, "I don’t care about his feelings."
Be honest with yourself: Is there ever a time this is true?
You can trust this process of life beacuse it is not here to beat you. It is a divine process, created for your benefit and learning. Your life — and every situation in it — is here to help you become a better person. You can rest assured that you are right where you are supposed to be on that journey, and this situation is your next perfect chance to grow.
When you can see yourself, the other person and this situation accurately, it will change how you experience this offense and it will be easier to forgive. When you see the other person accurately, you will have more understanding of where they are and why they behave badly.
If you still can’t forgive, you are probably stuck in your own fear.
You may need to do a little work with a counselor or coach to help you overcome your own self-esteem issues. Your fear (of not being good enough) might be keeping you in this defensive, protective, angry mindset. If you improve your own self-esteem first, forgiving will get easier.
Hope this helps!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.