- stock your life skill tool box. have a conversation with your heart long before it becomes wounded. the two of you decide to make forgiveness a tool you will use when it is needed. this way when forgiveness is required, the decision is already made and the issue is settled. your best life decisions are made when you are not in the midst of trouble. decide beforehand, what your approach to life will be.
- give yourself time. a raw wound is not ready for healing. it may be necessary to allow time and distance. however, deciding to make forgiveness part of the life skill tool box will guide the heart toward forgiveness when the time is right.
- forgive yourself. a great place to start when forgiving is to forgive yourself. often, we can feel upset with ourselves. “why did i not see?”, if i had only…”, “i swore i would never let…”. we put our hearts through torture trying to figure out “why”, “what if”, or “if only”. we add insult to injury by blaming ourselves. we can be wounded without any effort on our part. release yourself from responsibility that does not belong to you. forgive yourself for any real part that you played and refuse to punish yourself.
- learn the valuable lessons. if you need to apply more wisdom going forward. learn what that wisdom should be…apply it where possible…move forward. evaluating if healthy boundaries are necessary and setting them in place can assist the heart in returning to a feeling of safety.
- remember when you needed forgiveness and mercy. try as we might, we are going to blow it…maybe by the end of the day. remembering you have needed mercy in the past helps to soften the heart. realizing that when you desperately needed and wanted forgiveness because your intentions were not to wound, will help your heart walk toward forgiveness.
- refuse to inflict pain because you were hurt. maya angelo says that just because you have pain does not mean you have to be one. revenge feels like a natural weapon to raise in defence of your heart yet it is very destructive. your heart needs to understand that you do not have to extract punishment. however, forgiveness does not remove consequences especially if legal action is required.
- practice being kind and tender-hearted. keeping your heart tender will prepare it for forgiveness. practice kindness in some way toward someone outside of your situation. practice speaking kind words. be gentle with an infant. find ways to open your heart in non-threatening situations so that is not tempted to become hard, harsh and cold.
- have your say. i’m sure the heart would love the opportunity to provide an “earful” to the offender. most often, we don’t get the opportunity for confrontation. if the opportunity is provided and is safe, think carefully about what you need the offender to know about what happened, how it impacted you and that you plan to move forward with life. if you are not provided the opportunity or it is not safe to do so in person, writing a letter (whether sent or not) can provide the ability to “get off your chest” what your heart feels is important to be said. once you have given voice to your heart…let it end there. don’t keep rehearing the situation. rehearsing the offense just keeps the wound bleeding.
- put forgiveness to work. when you are ready…apply forgiveness. if you will replace the temptation- to tell yourself or a friend how badly you were hurt- with the statement, “i am forgiving this offense”- the wound will begin to heal from the inside out.
- practice forgiveness. practice bringing your emotions, behaviour and thoughts back to a functional place. when i was working with my heart to forgive my ex-husband, i began to practice speaking to him in a respectful way…even before i wanted to offer a respectful response. with each conversation, it became easier to speak kindly. even when it was necessary to be firm, i found that i could say what needed to be said in a kind way- for my heart’s sake. understanding that forgiveness is a life-style is important. it is not an immediate fix or a one time occurrence. it’s an act of faith. a decision. a hard decision. a valuable, life changing decision.
i have had many opportunities in my life that required forgiveness for me to live my best life. these are not just words. i have lived in an attempt to extract revenge…my heart growing harder…my life unsettled…and feeling trapped.
- there have been simple offenses- hurtful words spoken to or at me.
- a drunken driver caused an automobile accident that put me in the hospital, injured my baby sister and claimed the life of my fiancé.
- i have been through a very volatile divorce.
- i have had business partners betray my trust and steal assets that they had no rights to steal.
- i have been tricked.
- i have lied to.
- i have been cheated on.
yet, in each and every circumstance, i have found the most healing, freeing approach for my life was to walk through the steps of forgiveness.
in fact, the last situation i found myself involved in was a complete shock to my heart and system. i was amazed at my heart because after years of practicing forgiveness – i heard myself say, “i forgive you”…immediately. i had to pinch myself to make sure i was really aware of what i had just said…it was me…i had quickly chosen forgiveness…and it was so much easier than it used to be.
hopefully your heart will be able to find this life skill useful on your journey.
forgiveness is a sweet fragrance…your heart offers when it is crushed.