I recently had something in my life happen that tested my ability to forgive. Of course I’m not going to name any names because I’m not here to throw anyone under the bus. There was someone in my life that I trusted. It takes a lot for me to trust anyone and it took a long, long time for me to trust this person. I had this feeling that something was wrong, but I didn’t trust my own intuition. Finally they confessed to something that really turned my life upside down. Friends are supposed to be there to support us, not gain our trust and destroy us. Again, I am learning to be a survivor and not a victim so I’ve been reading a lot about forgiveness. I don’t want to excuse this person’s behavior so I thought if I forgive them, I’m saying it was ok to be dishonest with me, go ahead and lie to me again and again and I’ll be ok with that. What I learned is that forgiving someone is not giving them permission to duplicate that behavior. There are a lot of worksheets that you can print for free online. By not forgiving people for hurting us, we’re giving them control of our emotions. I’m trying really hard to move forward, but the friendship has been damaged and it’s going to take a very long time to trust them again. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust them, but I’m trying to forgive them for my own mental health.
So I found this article and it really helped me work through some of the feelings that I’ve been having.
1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. This is difficult because my feelings go from anger to sadness, then confusion, and frustration. This makes knowing exactly how I feel about what happened hard to narrow down.
2. Make a commitment to yourself to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and no one else.
3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling with the person who upset you or condoning the action. In forgiveness you seek the peace and understanding that come from blaming people less after they offend you and taking those offenses less personally.
4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts, and physical upset you are suffering now, not from what offended you or hurt you two minutes—or 10 years— ago. A.K.A., be a survivor, not a victim!
5. At the moment you feel upset, practice stress management to soothe your body’s fight or flight response. I also use meditation, I’m learning yoga, and grounding and breathing techniques to control my emotions. I use an imaginary stop sign to stop repetitive stressful thoughts before they cause a panic attack.
6. Give up expecting things from your life or from other people that they do not choose to give you. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, friendship, and prosperity, and work hard to get them.
7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you.
8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving power over you to the person who caused you pain, learn to look for the love, beauty, and kindness around you. Put more energy into appreciating what you have rather than attending to what you do not have.
9. Amend the way you look at your past so you remind yourself of your heroic choice to forgive.
once again, I’ll say what I’m working on is:
BE A SURVIVOR, NOT A VICTIM!