How to Forgive Others When You Feel Hurt
I remember a time when I was young I got upset with two of my friends and stopped talking to them for two years. I can’t even remember why I got upset, but at that time it made sense to me to hold on to my hard feelings. At that young age, I thought that my behavior was reasonable and I didn’t understand that the only person I was hurting by holding onto my feelings was myself.
I reacted the same way when I was younger because I, too, did that “thinking” thing. From a young age I was taught to “think” and if I thought about it hard enough and wanted it badly enough, it would happen.
Off on a tangent for a moment. No matter how hard I wanted to stop drinking each and every day, I couldn’t will power up enough thoughts to make that happen.
Back to thinking. I learned, once I was gifted with sobriety and a life in recovery, that thinking wasn’t my friend. It only rationalized me into many a dark hole and a life of feeling like a loser, a waste of space on the planet.
Once I left the alcohol treatment program I did what was suggested, go to AA. And there I did what was suggested. Go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps, and get into service. But the hugest transition for me came when I got to make up my own Higher Power, a Power Greater Than Myself, over to which I could turn my will and my life. That’s when the thinking went away and living from my heart became my “go to”.
Over the years I came to understand more that I didn’t need to take the behavior of another person so personally. That’s when forgiving suddenly became easier. What looked like a personal attack before now looked like a behavior of a person who was suffering, and therefore unable to act from a place of kindness (http://www.chopra.com/articles/4-magical-side-effects-of-kindness).
I live by Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. “Don’t take anything personally” has taken the power our of unkind words and actions directed at me. And I, too, can now put myself in that person’s shoes, knowing that I am unaware of the journey they are on, but able to be more compassionate and less judgmental when people behave like assholes.
Taking on this perspective opened me up for a new understanding of seeing my experience of other people more objectively. Not only did I learn to forgive more easily, but it also became easier for me to show up from a place of compassion.
Here are a few tips to help you see your situation from a wider perspective when you find it difficult to forgive another person.
1. Know That It’s Never Personal
Understanding where the other person is coming from and how their behavior has nothing to do with you makes forgiving them a natural response.
When someone says or does something that hurts you, they are not reacting directly to you—they are reacting to their own thinking. They are not reacting to the reality as it is, but rather to their own perception of the situation.
When you are able to see this at a deeper level, you can become less reactive. If the other person does something that hurts you, instead of taking it personally, try to become curious. What makes them act like that in the first place?
And when I feel a true connection to that person I can be mindful and respectful and really listen to his words and actions. I can offer hope and optimism and share that everything is perfect at this very moment. It’s all just part of the journey through life to bring us to greatness…or, at least peace, knowing we made it through to the other side wiser and stronger. Yes, this too shall pass.
However, if I don’t feel that true connection, if that person has walls up and is not open to compassion, then I walk away. He is on his own journey. We have boundaries too and must respect them and ourselves.
2. Know That You Are Always Doing Your Best
You, like everyone else, are always doing your best you can with the tools and knowledge you have in the moment.
What looks reasonable to you when you feel the anger burning inside often looks like a mistake afterward. If you had known this in the middle of the storm of your emotions, you would not have acted from that place. But you didn’t know.
This is why you may sometimes do things that you regret later. The more you understand this, the more innocence you can see in every act of unkindness—yours and others’.
AA has given me a toolbox for living (by the way, I do not represent Alcoholics Anonymous, the organization. My words are just that…my words, my opinions). When I get that uncomfortable knot in my gut I know that this situation isn’t serving my highest good. I embrace the feelings, thoughts and emotions, then ask that they be taken away. I let them go into the clouds. I also ask myself why I allowed them to make me so uncomfortable in the first place. I find that I am either usually in a place of HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) or I have become disconnected from the present moment; therefore, disconnected to my Higher Power. When I get back centered, knowing I am not in control of people, places, or things, I can go about my business freely.
3. Remember That Anger Clouds Thinking
When you feel stressed, upset, or angry, you lose your ability to see the moment clearly and objectively. Your perspective narrows, your negative emotions blind you momentarily, and you see everything in a more negative light than usual.
Your feelings of hurt are overshadowing your experience. When you see this and take a moment to allow your mind to calm down, your understanding of the situation becomes deeper.
In the heat of the moment, you might do or say things that you regret later (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to-transform-past-challenges-into-learning-experiences). You might be in the middle of an argument and say something that really hurts the other person. Deep down you know that you don’t really mean what you are saying, but your heated emotions override your ability to think clearly.
I hate myself when lower myself to someone else’s level. I know I’m better than that and that I shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t serve me, right? But it feels so damned good. And sometimes I’ll make an amends to that person, even when I feel they don’t deserve it. But I deserve it. To move on with a clean plate. And I learn from it.
Why am I using my precious energy on such negative shit? Why am I giving away my power to such a useless cause? Because I’m human. I grow. I get back in the moment. I’m grateful. I’m connected again. I move on.
Every act that comes from a place of unkindness is coming from a mind that is struggling.
Whenever you do things that hurt other people, you are suffering inside. Understanding this allows you to forgive others more effortlessly and gives you an opportunity to see your situation from a wider perspective. Not only will you realize that you don’t need to hold onto your negative emotions, but you can also recognize the humanity in every single person.
Everything resolves, one way or another, with the understanding that comes when your mind is calm.
What all this means is that you can forgive and choose to continue your life without the weight of your past, regardless of whether you still want to have the other person in your life, or not.
”Forgiveness is the discovery that what you thought happened, didn’t.” ~ Byron Katie
I learned awhile back that if a situation really bothers me I should look at it (better yet, write about it) from three different perspectives. One, from my perspective. Two, from the other person’s perspective. And, three, from an outsiders perspective. It’s really enlightening. Try it!
Thank you being here. With warmest aloha,
If you are interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Encouragement, feeling good about you and your life, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Enjoy and mahalo!
About the Author
Heidi Paavilainen (/bios/heidi-paavilainen) Transformative Coach, Yoga Teacher, Writer
Heidi helps people connect more with their inner wisdom so that they can find their own answers to the questions they are facing in life, enjoy a greater sense of well-being, and have relationships that feel good. Learn more about Heidi (http://www.heidipaavilainen.com/), and find out how she can help you make positive changes in your life. Read more (/bios/heidi-paavilainen)
From The Chopra Center 6/20/17