5 Steps To Genuinely Forgiving The One You Love
Ask your partner to honestly complete the following sentence: “I never mentioned it at the time but it really bothered me when you…”
Most could complete this sentence without missing a beat, and it might even be stuff from three years ago.
Like a missile, it is just sitting there waiting to be launched.
But here’s the thing – in time, these “unforgivens” take on a life of their own. It’s as though they go airborne and circle high above your head like buzzards ready to pick at your bones.
It is on the day you have an argument that they begin to land – one after another after another.
These resentments lead to blame, criticism, defensiveness and full blown communication breakdowns, and the only real solution is genuine forgiveness.
Learning to forgive is not an easy task, however, it is a skill that will prove very empowering and incredibly healing for you.
Step 1: Make the decision to forgive
At some point in your life, you’ve likely told someone that you forgave them and meant it, but then your resentment returned and the feeling of forgiveness went away. This is normal.
But if you want to achieve lasting forgiveness, you must make a solid decision to forgive, and that decision cannot fluctuate.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say your spouse cheated on you. He/she said they were sorry, asked for forgiveness, and genuinely regrets the mistake.
You agree to grant a second chance, and in a moment of reconnection, you decide to forgive.
Things are going well at first, but then doubts start creeping in.
Every time he/she goes out, you feel insecure. When you have a fight, you bring up the affair. In other words, you have allowed your decision to forgive to fluctuate.
As a result, you are no longer enjoying a loving relationship with your spouse in the present moment.
Let me be clear, forgiveness does not mean you need to stay in a relationship that is not working for you.
The truth is, you’re not forgiving the other person because they deserve forgiveness, you are doing it because you deserve peace.
So if you want to reconnect with your partner, then make the decision to forgive, commit to it, and do not give yourself permission to fluctuate.
Step 2: Get clear about it
It may be easy enough to say, “I forgive you,” but from there to actually forgiving someone who has hurt you is a whole other matter.
Once you’ve made a solid decision to forgive, get crystal clear about it.
At the top of a sheet of paper, write your partner’s name.
Next write exactly what you are forgiving them for – be specific and thorough.
On the back of the sheet, make a list of all of the reasons you want to forgive your partner.
Once you’ve made a complete list, write the top three reasons on a post-it note and put it in a place that you, and only you, will see often throughout your daily life.
Remember, if you do not know why you want to forgive, you will likely start to fluctuate when the going gets tough.
Step 3: Think of times when you acted similarly
It is quite possible that you never did anything as bad to your partner as what was done to you, but you’ve no doubt hurt your partner at some point in the relationship.
We’ve all done things we’re not proud of and we’ve all been dishonest in various ways throughout our lives.
While it is not healthy to focus on our mistakes and transgressions, it can be good to review them and remind ourselves that we’re not perfect either and that there are times when we’ve wanted forgiveness.
Make a list of the ways you’ve acted similarly.
Step 4: Let it go symbolically
Re-read what you wrote in step 2 and take the time to imagine each one of your grievances floating away into space while saying “I forgive you.”
Once you’ve released them all, safely burn the pages while asking your higher power for help in healing your heart.
Step 5: Forgive yourself
If you’re feeling guilty, ashamed or angry at yourself for things you’ve done in the past, you’re not alone.
Therefore, complete the steps above, but with the focus on forgiving yourself.
When I encourage people to forgive, I usually hear every “but” in the book.
But he did this, but she did that… And all these ‘but’s’ may be true, but if you’re serious about freeing yourself up and truly re-connecting with the one you love, you’ll need to genuinely forgive them!
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