We're often told that forgiveness is good, and that it’s our responsibility to forgive. We’re never told that sometimes it takes time to truly forgive.
Forgiveness is a process, rather than an automatic response, hence we need to appreciate all stages which occur during the process.
1. Acknowledge the wound.
We have to accept the fact that we’ve been hurt. This wound inside of us is real; it’s something we need to embrace and listen to. It won’t be helpful to label this emotion as “negative” since it only encourages us to reject the pain, hence stifling our effort to truly heal.
We can fake forgiveness to skip this stage, but we can never lie to ourselves. The resentment will grow stronger when we repress the emotion.
2. Safely express your feelings.
Once we acknowledge our wound, we have to sit with the uncomfortable feeling that arises. We need to allow ourselves to express our emotions. Breathe deeply into our feelings and exhale slowly.
We can do it under the supervision of a therapist, if needed, and with the support of friends and family. But if we cannot get the support from them, we can seek support from online conscious communities.
3. Do something creative.
We may feel empty inside after expressing our emotions. Creative activities are best to fill this empty feeling. It’s the time to awaken our creative talents, which might have been dormant for a long period of time.
It doesn’t matter what kind of creative activity we choose. It might be painting, singing, dancing, or writing. It might also be baking or working in the garden. The point of creative works is creating something.
Coloring books are so popular today; why not give it a try? What about origami? You have countless options, and you can also always look online for inspiration.
4. Engage in physical activities.
Switching our attention to our body helps us grounded and be present, hence the importance of doing physical exercises. This step may or may not happen simultaneously with the previous stage.
Some people might feel too drained to work out at this moment; while those who are more active may find it rejuvenating.
Pick the kind of sport that suits your liking; either it’s the gym or yoga class. You may even want to challenge yourself by doing something you’ve never done before, such as joining martial art class, taking a dance lesson, or learning to surf.
If you prefer to do something more relaxing, you can take a stroll around the town, or walk along the beach.
5. Release the past hurt.
When we feel ready, we can recall the past event — not to mourn over it, but to observe and take some learning points. We may want to see it from the offender’s perspective and try to understand their position, which doesn’t necessarily mean justifying their wrongdoings.
Sometimes, we may notice that we also share the blame. If it happens, we have to remind ourselves not to repeat the same mistake. Self-forgiveness is also important here.
It takes two to tango; so it does with forgiveness—ideally. But, if it is not likely to happen, do not wait others to seek out apologies. They may not even realize the damage they’ve done. Try to let go.
After doing all the above process and practicing these keys to true forgiveness, it should be easier for us to let go. If not, then don’t worry. Some wounds may take a longer time to heal. Trust your process. You know your own course to forgiveness.