We all stumble and make mistakes in life, and sometimes we end up hurting the ones we love the most. The hurt and pain caused by a significant other or spouse is often the most bitter experience.
Discovered secrets can also stir up feelings of deep hurt, and almost always lead to resentment, hatred, and anger. Rage can take us in directions we don’t anticipate, and words we never meant to say can fly unbidden from our lips to cause wounds that are deep and long-lasting.
At the time, the feelings may be appropriate, but it’s when people hang on to those feelings that problems with stress and pain arise. A relationship with an overabundance of negative feelings is in danger of falling apart, and forgiveness needs to find its way in, so as to cool the hotbed of emotions.
Nurturing old wounds can be likened to weeds growing in your flower bed. The more you nurture them with grudges and feelings of resentment, the more they will grow in strength and number until they have taken over the entire garden. Eventually, all your positive feelings will have no room to grow and bloom.
When you consider forgiving someone, you are not condoning their inappropriate behavior. The act of forgiving someone does not mean you:
- Are excusing the actions of your partner
- No longer have any feelings about the matter
- Are forgetting the incident ever happened
- Need to let your partner know that you forgive them
- Consider everything to be fine in your relationship and don’t need to work on it still
- Need to continue with the relationship
- Are turning the other cheek and leaving yourself vulnerable to more hurt
Forgiveness is about letting go of the anger, the hatred, and the resentment and moving on with your life, even if that means sometimes going your separate ways. Most often, forgiveness is a journey you take in steps, and it’s rare that you can let it all go in one fell swoop.
You need to give your wounds time to heal, but if you continue to hold onto the negative feelings, control of your life remains in the hands of those who have wronged you. When you forgive, you will finally be free of the weight holding you down.
How to Forgive
There is a common misconception that once someone decides to forgive, it’s done and dusted. However, this is not the case because it will take some time before you can truly say you have forgiven the person who you feel has wronged you. Of course, there’s no harm in asking for help in giving forgiveness a nudge in the right direction.
Let it go. You will need to release all the resentment, anger, and hatred because forgiveness is unconditional.
Decide about whether to confront. It can be a tough call to decide on whether a confrontation is a correct path or not. Sometimes a little counseling can help guide you in the right direction.
Be Accepting. We are human, and it’s in our nature to judge. You may not be able to live an entirely judgmental free life, but limiting the number of negative judgments that cross your mind will help the forgiveness settle in. As author Wayne Dyer mentions, judgments say very little about those being judged, but speak volumes about the person doing the judging.
Let go of your desire for revenge. When you continue to fantasize about inflicting pain on your transgressors, you maintain a negative state of suffering and pain. Once you move away from the idea of revenge you will be able to enjoy the freedom forgiveness can provide.
Stop laying blame. If you consider someone else to be responsible for how you feel, then you are not the person in control of your life. Stop the blaming, and you will soon be back behind the wheel.
Allow yourself to feel everything. The hurt, anger, and resentment are often strong feelings that can drown out all others. Look deep beneath the surface of those raw emotions boiling on the surface, and you will see the grief, hurt, and betrayal lurking underneath. Allow these feelings to have their moment, and you will move further along the path towards forgiveness.
Many of us fall into the trap of believing that forgiveness is an outward force that we can only apply to others. However, many of us are guilty of judging ourselves too harshly. By learning to forgive ourselves for our human limitations, we can find self-acceptance. If you aren’t able to forgive yourself, then you will find it difficult to forgive others.
We are all guilty of the occasional transgression against others and ourselves, but if we live with the idea of never being able to forgive ourselves, we are laying down the foundation for a lifetime of shame and guilt.
You can learn to forgive yourself by:
- Accepting yourself for who you are rather than judging yourself
- Deciding to honor yourself rather than laying blame at your feet
- Building yourself up rather than tearing yourself down through self-criticism
- Letting go of the past rather than clinging to it
You cannot force forgiveness or even self-forgiveness, and it may prove difficult to acquire. But like most things in life, we can learn and practice forgiveness like any other life skill. Remember, if you find yourself stubbornly hanging onto past resentments and anger, forgive yourself and acknowledge that it will take time and patience.
Forgiveness and mending your marriage can be an easier process with marriage counseling. To learn more about getting help to work through your relationship challenges, click here: Couples Counseling