While it’s always a good time to forgive, if you’re willing to, the start of a new year is a particularly nice time to consciously forgive.
So many of us go through our lives sometimes accumulating little ouches and resentments here and there without addressing them.
What often happens is that people wind up brushing these little hurts under the rug, paying little attention to them until they become major cracks in the foundation of your most important relationships.
The best time to make amends is right after the incident took place, but we all know that is not always realistic for a lot of people.
The next best time is your next possible opportunity (which is whenever you choose).
And the next best time after that is (obviously) the start of a new year, the same time you’re going to jumpstart your health, business, spirituality and of course create deeper and more fulfilling relationships across the board.
Ahhh, the magic of January!
Time to forgive!
I get it, a calendar date can be completely arbitrary, but now’s a good a time as ever for some emotional housecleaning.
First of all, why is forgiveness important?
Because it’s freedom.
“Forgiveness is just another word for freedom,” – Byron Katie
When you recognize its significance and the effect forgiving will have on your life, you will be extremely motivated to practice forgiveness over and over again.
**I should be clear that in no way am I advocating for accepting anything less than respectful treatment from others.
If you are struggling with intimate partner violence or abuse in your relationship whatsoever, I urge you to get confidential help by visiting a site such as http://thehotline.org**
Forgiving can be challenging, though, as much as you want to let something go, it can still haunt you.
So let’s look at a few different scenarios and questions to ponder as you come up against forgiveness today.
Be clear on the kind of relationship you are consciously creating with the person you are forgiving.
Is this a person of the past that you are ready and willing to truly let go of, or someone currently in your life that has disappointed you one too many times and you are planning to keep at arm’s distance?
Alternatively, is this someone close to you such as a romantic partner or good friend and some kind of hurt or betrayal is coming between you, and must be resolved to restore and deepen your connection?
Understand the quality of the relationship you believe is possible to create and that you desire to create with this person.
If it’s the former category, someone either out of your life or a bit more distant, do yourself the favor and let that go.
Forgiveness is really something to do for yourself.
I love this quote and share it a lot:
“An unwillingness to forgive is like stabbing ourselves with a knife and expecting the person who did us wrong to feel the pain.
Forgiveness is not something we do for the sake of another person. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves.” — Edwene Gaines
If you are having a hard time forgiving someone for your own sake, I encourage you to grab a pen and paper and do some reflection with the following questions (you may not have the answers, but these questions will get your wheels turning):
Before we look at these questions…check out the pencil pictured above. Could you even write with that?!!
OK…ask yourself some of these questions:
- What is stopping me from forgiving x?
- What would be the worst thing that would happen if I forgave x?
- What am I afraid of will happen if I forgive x?
- What lesson is there for me to learn before I forgive x?
- Have I learned that lesson?
- What can I trust I will not let happen again if I forgive x?
- What, if anything, can’t I trust myself on if I forgive x?
And perhaps the question that might give you the most clues around why you’re having a hard time forgiving:
- What do I need to forgive myself for?
- What’s stopping me from doing so?
You can repeat the above questions about forgiving yourself as well.
Go through these questions to come up with some answers and get some clarity for yourself.
To help with your forgiveness, consider using some H’oponopono, Emotional Freedom Technique (I love the Tap With Brad YouTube channel), write a letter (send at your discretion!), or get in touch with your inner pyromaniac and burn stuff.
Either way, getting clearer on what is holding you back from forgiving will certainly help you let go with more ease so that you can experience the freedom that forgiveness allows.
In the case of forgiveness in closer relationships…
The other situation that involves someone you are in an ongoing close relationship with can be a bit more challenging, because in the case of more egregious betrayals (and yes, they are subjective), you will need your friend or partner’s participation for full healing to occur.
Trust clearly must be reestablished.
You need to be reassured that the act will never happen again.
You need to know the other person truly understands the impact their actions had on you.
You need to also know that the other person genuinely feels badly about what they’ve done, and will not repeat the act.
Further, whatever narrative you have around why they did what they did mustn’t be replicated in your current day to day life. For example, if your partner cheated on you 15 years ago and you felt disrespected and dismissed as a result (understandable reaction), today you must feel respected and taken into consideration on the regular if you’re ever going to get anywhere in healing that old wound.
Healing from big wounds, also known as “attachment injuries” in Emotionally Focused Therapy, can be a bit of a process in that there are so many emotional layers on both sides, but it happens every day.
If you are not feeling confident to go through this process on your own I encourage you to find a qualified Emotionally Focused Therapist by visiting The International Centre for Excellence in EFT and use the “find a therapist” tab to find a certified EFT therapist near you (we are all over the globe).
There are, however, smaller resentments and hurts that you might be able to forgive that don’t require your partner’s participation, but you might need to take a magnifying glass out to really look at them.
So many of us are conditioned to not let little things get to us but over time little things can build up, especially if we are used to turning our backs to them.
Little resentments and misses are often like pebbles in your shoe. At first they’re no biggie and easy to ignore but you put a few miles on those puppies and you’ve got a ripped up and bloody foot if you don’t address them.
That’s why it’s so important to remain self-aware and mindful at all times (every single minute!! just kidding, not sure if we’d ever be able to get anything done if that were the case).
Seriously though — being aware of in touch with your emotional experience is one of the smartest things you can do to foster stronger relationships obviously with yourself but also with others.
Take inventory of what you may be holding people accountable for that is no longer necessary.
Likewise, take inventory of what you may be holding yourself accountable for that’s no longer necessary.
You’ll find that when you do that with yourself and close others in your life, and make the conscious decision to be like Elsa from Disney’s Frozen and simply Let It Go, you will experience a freedom and restoration like none other.
Then you can extend your arms and dance on an icy mountain and proclaim with glee,
“It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
(Yes, those are the lyrics from Disney’s Frozen’s hit song “Let It Go” and yes, I have a young daughter who might be obsessed with it.)
If you’re struggling to forgive, always remember to ask yourself what you’re still holding YOU accountable for.
Find the lesson.
Express appreciation for said lesson.
And…let it go.
I hope this has been helpful and would love to hear how else you have managed to forgive.
By leaving a comment on the blog, you never know who’ll you’ll help (and you’ll make a difference to me, too!)
Here’s to both forgiveness and to your freedom,
P.S. We just had a Masterclass on Forgiveness in My Best Relationship Society, my online membership and community for purpose driven individuals to create their best relationships across the board, where we went deeper with some of these ideas.
I’m always up for discussing these topics on our open ended group calls which occur monthly (in addition to monthly Masterclasses). If you would like to join a community of awesome people who are committed to their own personal expansion, which includes deepened and fulfilling relationships, we’d love to have you join us.
It’s a month to month commitment so you’re not locked into anything if you don’t love it (but we hope you will!)