How to forgive and let go is a question a lot of my clients ask. It’s not easy to carry the weight of disappointments and helplessness. These could be burdens that are holding you back. A lot of people say that you have to forgive the person who wronged you if you want to move on. Is it that simple though? Some of my clients have said that they have forgiven and moved on. But, the pain still shows up and their nervous system still gets triggered. If forgiveness was the key to healing and letting go then we should not be feeling the pain.
This got me thinking-
Who is forgiveness for, is it for me or the person who hurts me?
How is forgiving someone else helping my unresolved feelings?
Does forgiveness mean giving your trust back to the person who broke it?
Does it mean your memory completely erases the hurtful incident?
If you have been treated badly and hurt over and over again by someone close to you it feels like a betrayal.
You could have had a childhood where you never felt seen and accepted for who they are. You could be a partner who did not feel valued, respected or seen by their partner. You feel confused and hurt, you find yourself making excuses for their behavior. You think maybe you are the problem. This pain goes very deep. We need time to heal. In my experience forgiveness comes as we heal. Forgiveness cannot be rushed.
How to forgive and let go?
I have heard people say move on don’t give the person who hurt you so much power over yourself. In my opinion this statement makes forgiveness a burden. The feelings you feel are not in your control. You have to go through the healing process of acknowledging and feeling the feelings to genuinely be able to let go.
Just because you say, I forgive you, doesn’t always mean you do. Digging deep into my own journey helped me realize that forgiveness is a part of the process of healing. It happens, but only when we are ready for it.
The process of forgiveness begins with connecting with yourself, recognizing your feelings and accepting what you went through. We tend to rationalize the other person’s behavior and give reasons as though why their behavior makes sense. This will not allow you to connect with your feelings. Focus on how your system is experiencing the situation as opposed to protecting yourself from the feelings caused by the experience.
Making space for your feelings will help you move towards forgiveness and letting go. Name your feelings. Before you get to the point of forgiveness, you will go through guilt, anger, shame, resentment, hurt and many such emotions. These emotions need attention and need to be processed.
It’s ok to go back and forth between conflicting emotions. Some days you will feel really angry and recognize their responsibility and other days you will find yourself feeling empathy for the person who wronged you. When you find yourself moving towards why they did what they did, bring your attention back to your feelings and what your body is holding on to.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the person who caused you pain. Forgiveness has nothing to do with going back to the original relationship you had with the person. It is not about deciding how that person fits in your life now. It has more to do with taking the focus away from blame, guilt and shame and bringing attention to allowing kindness and compassion to ourselves. It helps accept some experiences and gives the permission to let go of others.
The burden that we carry comes from the expectations we have that are never fulfilled. The constant disapproval and dismissal results in continual hurt. In order for the cycle of hurt to end we have to work towards accepting the reality. Pain will show up from the grief of not having the relationship that you would have liked with your family or the sense of the loss of a future you wanted. Your connection with yourself will help you recognize these feelings and make space for them that will help you move on from the grief and let go.
As shared by my clients and evidenced in my own journey, as you start healing you start coming close to a place of forgiveness and letting go. You will start to notice a shift within yourself.
You will not be trying to forgive any more, there is an acceptance and an adjustment in expectations. You see the person for who they are as opposed to expecting something from them that they are not capable of giving you. You feel grounded in yourself, you are able to regulate your feelings.
Forgiveness does not mean you allow the person back into your life. It just allows your decisions to come from a place that’s in complete harmony with your inner self and not diluted with emotions like shame, guilt and anger.
If you resonate with this article and would like to let go of your emotional burden then get in touch to schedule a free consultation