Several years ago, as I was pregnant with my firstborn and needing some water, I was coming from my bedroom to the kitchen when I ended up on the floor. I had been so engrossed with my thinking that I misjudged the whereabouts of the door frame, which at that moment proved victor as I lay on the ground with a knot forming on my head. It was then where I realized that I had been so absorbed with my past undue forgiveness that it was literally knocking me down. That forthright wake up call led me on a four step journey towards freedom from the heavy weight that my undue forgiveness had taken.
So, after I grounded myself after the knockdown and of course drank the cup of water that I was intending to get, I began this four step journey towards forgiveness.
- Chuck your pride out the window.
The first and hardest realization is admitting that you need to forgive. Pride must be put away. Even though someone may say they are sorry by their words or actions, there is a tendency for pride to not allow you to forgive because you may justify that it is easy to say ‘I’m sorry’, but it does not make everything right. When I was a little girl, I walked into our garage to find my dad and there he was with a rope around his neck. I can still remember the feeling of my childhood innocence being stripped away. He did not take his life that day, but from that day forward I had animosity towards him for the mental agony and trauma that he put me through.
Forgiving someone does not mean forgetting what was done, but it allows you to let go of your pride in holding on to the past event, that you cannot change.
- Put the other persons ‘shoes’ on.
In order to understand the other person, we must put their shoes on and see things from their perspective. Before I was born, my dad had an industrial accident that caused him to become type one diabetic from damage to his pancreas and other internal organs. His medications later caused him to become deaf and after several years he was chronically in pain. He was constantly in the hospital for either his blood sugar episodes or him receiving pain medication. Living that type of life can be one that wears a person down. And when I really saw things from his perspective, my walls of pride began to crumble and I actually began to feel sympathetic towards him. When I would ask him how his pain felt, he would say it is like being punched in the soda plexus times 10.
I have been punched in the soda plexus, and it sure did not feel good…not for a while either, which made me understand just a portion of the pain that he had to experience day in and day out. So even though thinking to take ones life is not a healthy solution to any problem, I could see how my dad was looking for some type of relief from his constant pain.
Seeing things from another persons perspective does not excuse any wrong or harmful act, but it can allow you to make more sense of why an action may have been done.
- Determine that you want a life of happiness.
A life of happiness is understanding that this moment is all that you have. Trying to change the past or worrying about the future only distracts you from what is truly important… living now! To not be present in the moment is to lose that moment in time forever.
This is not to be confused with remembering how the past has led you to where you are today and learning from those mistakes, nor from looking ahead to the future and having a plan in place for how you will overcome your obstacles.
When my dad’s death came suddenly, I had an overwhelming sense of guilt that I had stolen from him and myself happiness that we both could have enjoyed. And now that opportunity was gone forever. Yet, in order to make the change, I had to determine that I wanted to be free from my hatred that I had towards my dads action.
- Forgiveness takes time.
Even though this is the final step, this is the second hardest step in your forgiveness journey, apart from the first step in putting your pride away. It is realizing that you still have negative feelings towards your event and/or individual when it may come up again and again. I could not understand why I kept feeling hurt when stories of my dad were told or why I didn’t want to visit his graveside. Hadn’t I already forgiven him? Why was I still feeling negative towards the situation? I began to realize that forgiveness is not just saying ‘I forgive you’, neither is being sorry just saying, ‘I’m sorry’. But it is an entire action that you have to train your mind to make new positive pathways that redirect your negative thoughts and actions. When you say I’m sorry, you have to change your action from what you are sorry from to something that is acceptable so that you truly mean that you will not do it again. The same thing with forgiveness. You have to change your thoughts or actions of hurt to a loving and accepting attitude, but that does not come overnight. Your brain activates a certain feeling from what it has been trained to do. And for all those years I trained my mind to think negatively towards my dad for stealing my joy and happiness by thinking that I was not important enough for him to live for. So, even though I had gone through all of my previous steps successfully, I had to rewire my minds pathways from those negative feelings to positive ones. In order to do that, I would continuously implement the first three steps then I would think of one positive memory that I had with my dad. Over time, the positive memories crowded out the negative ones and a new positive pathway of feelings had emerged.
You have just heard my forgiveness story. You may have one too. It may be similar to mine or something totally different. Whatever experience that you have had in the past, you need to ask yourself one thing, ’by me not forgiving, is this stealing true happiness from me?’
If you are curious about how to live a life of happiness and would like to know how you can live the most positive and fulfilling life that you are capable of, join me as I will show you proven methods on how to thrive through your past experiences and view things positively.