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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to Forgive: 3 steps

“Ouch!” That hurt right? That mosquito bit you and WHAM, you sent that joker to bug hell. No hard feelings. You got your revenge and you are done with it. Better yet, there were no feelings whatsoever, you dealt with your problem and now it is a thing of the past—except for the bump it’s going to leave.

But what if that mosquito was a boyfriend or a girlfriend? What if that bite was an STD or an emptied bank account. You can’t just squash your ex…. Well you could, but I wouldn’t advise it. Comparing an emptied bank account to a mosquito bite is a very poor comparison but I wanted to make a point. And my point is that it is easy to put behind small hurts—but big hurts?

Not so much.

Yet the same way we handle the mosquito bite is the way we need to handle our past hurt. We put it behind us. How do we do it? We forgive. How do we forgive? It’s complicated but possible. And forgiveness of others can only happen if you forgive yourself. That being said, if you have forgiven yourself then here are three things that I apply to my life (in no particular order) to help me forgive:

1.       Just do it.

Yes, this is my personal preferred method of forgiveness. I just do it. It is a mindset. I don’t see it as something that I should do, but as something that I have to do. Why? Because if I don’t I am the one that is going to pay for it. I am not going to be victimized twice by anyone. I am victimized once, when they commit the crime and then secondly when I lose sleep or my health, because I can’t forgive them.

2.       Don’t try to forget but…

Treat them like you forgot. This is only something that is an issue if you have to deal with the person periodically. Don’t forget what they did, that is downright dangerous, but treat them like you forgot. After all, you will probably have to interact with this person in some form for the sake of someone or something important to you. Put away angry thoughts directed toward that person and keep them a safe distance away. You can’t really forgive or interact with anyone well, if you are thinking about stabbing them in the eye. Also, back to forgiving yourself, you should also treat YOURSELF as if you forgot. Yes, I know that it sounds odd, but consider doing/not doing the following:

a.       Don’t keep bringing  up the story. You may not realize it but every time you bring it up, you are bringing yourself right back to the pain and as long as you keep doing this, you will never heal.

b.      Don’t live your life as if you are destined to get hurt the same way by a different person or thing. You end up living a life of imprisonment and in a way you imprison the good people around you. I have to be honest. I have spent a lot of hours with past girlfriends paying for what an ex-boyfriend did.

c.       Do learn how to balance trust with wisdom. Yes, I hear you. You didn’t do anything wrong. I believe you, but you have to take your life in your own hands. Learn whom to trust and whom not to trust. Once you do this, you will have the confidence to move on and you will be essentially treating yourself as if you forgot.

3.       And finally—

Get justice. No, I am not talking about revenge. I am talking about closure, which could range from confronting the person to ensuring that they pay for their crime. Now here is where you have to weigh the cost. Look, if the person you want to confront is psycho; then don’t confront them. At the very least that person may try to twist things and make you feel like it was ALL your fault. If there was an illegal crime against you, take whatever evidence you have to the police and put it in the hands of the law. Me personally, my greatest act of justice is to live. Live a happy productive life, so that the person that harmed me would know that in the scheme of things their existence was only a small obstacle.

You will notice that I didn’t mention prayer or praying to have your anger or even hatred removed. I believe in the power of prayer. But I also believe that prayer with actions is very effective. In other words, sometimes God will not remove your mountain, but if that is the case, he will surely give you the strength to climb it.