In my own explorations of forgiveness, what I realized is that people didn’t necessarily want to hurt me, but rather, they just had pain inside they didn’t know what to do with. They had a story they were “taking out on me,” and it really had nothing to do with me. That helped me see that my inability to forgive had nothing to do with them, but rather, with my ideas of them. I had trouble forgiving because I expected somebody to be a certain way, and they weren’t able to live up to that expectation.
This awareness helped me realize that forgiveness was not something I gave to somebody else; it was something I gave to myself. I had to forgive myself for every time I “let” somebody else hurt me. I had to forgive myself for letting go of my hopes and dreams while I unconsciously protected myself from more pain. I had to forgive myself for hurting others, just the way I had been hurt. And I had to forgive myself for believing the stories I told myself, like that I was a victim who didn’t deserve a conscious loving relationship.
Over time, as I began to just see all these interactions as stories, I learned how to look more objectively at other people’s actions. Instead of seeing them subjectively as bad or mean, I became curious. I progressively changed my thoughts from “That person is so mean!” to “I wonder why that person might have done that. Is it possible that he’s having a bad day and it has nothing to do with me?”
This more objective viewpoint fostered a greater sense of compassion for myself and others, and it was that compassion and objectivity that objectivity enabled me to transform my painful stories into personal empowerment. I‟ve found that I enjoy my relationships with others more, and even with people close to me who have hurt me.
It is your choice to forgive yourself for past mistakes and to forgive and release the pain another has caused you for your own benefit. Doing this will allow you to begin the healing process. Consider writing down a list of people who have hurt you and the situations that caused you pain. Explore the story in writing, detailing the events and feelings as you remember them. Then see if you can start to shine a new light on this story, realizing it had nothing to do with you.
To begin writing your way to forgiveness Chris suggests starting with this question: “If somebody like me were able to forgive the person who hurt him/her, what would that look like? How might it be possible?”