“Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that” Martin Luther King.
When it comes to forgiving yourself, we like to believe that it’s a one-stop shop, we’re supposed to forgive and forget and keep life moving. But it isn’t always that easy, is it? There’s a lot of pain, hurt, and emotional baggage in our hearts and lives that we hold on to. We often think that when we forgive that we have to forget. We struggle with accepting what happened and are ok with whatever happened in the past. It’s not, forgiveness is much more than just releasing and saying ok. Forgiveness is a journey, it’s a process and it’s not something that just happens overnight.
I decided to look more into how to forgive yourself and others. It’s a little more nuance than just accepting what happened and letting bygone be bygone but you don’t have to forgive in that way. It turns out there are many ways to practice the art of forgiveness..
Types Of Forgiveness
Exoneration – This type of forgiveness is the one we think of when we think of forgiveness, you “forgive and forget” and move on like nothing ever happened. This is when you want to clean the slate and start back from the beginning. This type of forgiveness is more common in a misunderstanding or when the other person is sincerely remorseful.
Progressive – This kind of forgiveness is when you forgive them in spite of the incident in order to move past the issue. The person has acknowledged what they have done but is not very remorseful about it and you’d rather just move on from the issue than lose the entire relationship. This is the “Forgive but don’t forget” mentality and is more common in romantic relationships where you care more about your partner than the incident.
Release – Typically the more painful out of the three, this is the one where the apology was given but you can’t look past the incident and would rather lose the relationship than keep it going. More common when someone has hurt someone deeply or no longer sees eye to eye sometimes it’s better to move on and have a healthy breakup.
With this in mind, you can forgive people in many ways and only you can decide what will work best for you and your situation. I know forgiving yourself can be difficult and forgiving others can be even more so.
Only you know when it’s time to forgive, it’s no one else’s decision and it doesn’t have to be instant. But how do we build up to any kind of forgiveness?
Steps To Forgive Yourself And Others
Firstly, turn off your emotions about the situation and look objectively. Take yourself out of the situation and look at it from a third party. This will take time as we are all emotional beings but you must try. Once you have accomplished this then look at it objectively is there something you didn’t see last time that you see this time? Maybe there was a misunderstanding? Or is this a bigger issue? Reflect on this information and think about it from a 3 party perspective.
Second, Look at your relationship with the party. If it’s a relationship with yourself, forgiveness is always an option. You should always be willing to understand yourself on a deeper level and get to the root of the issue and work on it. Looking inward to yourself and seeing what the real issue is and how you want to go forward with solving the issue is paramount for growth. If it’s with another party ask yourself if this is a persistent issue that they are not willing to budge on or is it that you guys are not seeing eye to eye. Next, is it worth the relationship or just a conversation? Once you have that then you can move on.
Third Work on an understanding. If it’s with yourself meditating on the issue and letting your mind and the energy guide you to what’s going on mentally and spiritually on the answer. Trust in the universe. If it is something outwardly again sit and meditate on the issue and let it guide you. Pay close attention to what you’re feeling and what you need to get out of the situation. At that point decide on what kind of forgiveness is best for the situation. Can it be resolved? Are you willing to look past it? or is it better off in the past? Once you can answer these questions in a non-emotional way then you have your answer.
Forgiveness is the first step in the healing process. Accepting that people (you, I, and others) have flaws and are not perfect and learning how to move pass the issue is the true definition of forgiveness it’s up to you to decide on how to do it, and when you do you’ll feel lighter happier and more at peace.