Forgiveness can be tricky. It may be something you want or feel you need to do, but something could be holding you back.
Often, people are reluctant to forgive others because they're still angry at the situation. They may feel that releasing the anger and forgiving someone would mean they somehow condoned the hurtful action.
That's not true!
Forgiveness doesn't mean you're ok with what happened. It just means that you're ready and willing to trade anger for peace. Forgiveness is for you more than it is for others. When you're unable to let go of a situation and move on, emotions can become trapped in your body and manifest in ways that cause you pain such as increased anxiety, fear, and even physical pain.
Sometimes, you're ready to forgive someone or something but you just don't know where to start. If so, then I've created a few possibilities for you to try.
Write a forgiveness letter
This was the first real forgiveness exercise that I ever tried. The first week of orientation for medical school focused on teaching us the importance of self-care. We were asked to write a letter to someone who had wronged us. In this letter, we wrote exactly how we were hurt by the things someone said or did, and how we had wished the situation played out instead. When it was finished, you could mail the letter, burn it, shred it, or keep it as a reminder of forgiveness.
This was a super powerful exercise! When I sat down to start writing, I was crying, angry, hurt, and feeling all the things. By the end, I felt amazing and so much lighter. There's something incredibly healing about putting pen to paper and getting all of your thoughts out of your head.
Create your own forgiveness ritual
When you hear the word ritual, I hope you're not imagining something complex with lots of ingredients that can only be done on the second Tuesday after a full moon. The best rituals are something simple yet meaningful to you. Some examples include:
*writing the person's name on a rock and throwing it in a river so it's carried away from you
*writing down how you were hurt, and the person's name you want to forgive on a piece of paper and burning it
*bathing with certain scents or herbs and letting the water carry your hurt and anger down the drain
*meditation and visualization with the intention of forgiveness
When designing your own forgiveness ritual, make it something simple or symbolic. The intention of releasing emotions combined with action is enough to make you feel better. Don't worry about trying to do something perfectly or feeling foolish.
Forgiveness mantras or affirmations
The Hawaiian people have a sacred practice called Ho'oponopono. This is a forgiveness and healing ritual performed by native healers to bring healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness between 2 parties (such as family members) involved in a dispute.
This practice serves to release the guilt, anger, and resentment you've been storing. For many people, it offers the opportunity for closure. The technique is actually very simple and involves a series of mantras. These mantras address the concepts of repentance, forgiveness, gratitude and love.
Traditionally, these 4 phrases are used:
Please, forgive me
I love you.
Ho'oponopono can be used for self-forgiveness as well as to forgive others. However, you may not resonate with the traditional phrases depending on what happened in your particular situation. Also, others may be uncomfortable using traditional Ho'oponopono due to cultural appropriation. With that in mind, I've created a few variations which can be used to fit your particular situation. You can customize them in any way you like.
The important part is that you feel good about letting go of negative emotions and exchanging them for positive ones.
Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and say the mantra out loud. As you do, be willing to let go of the issue and the negative emotions you've been storing as a result. This is your opportunity to clear out the old stuff, and welcome new emotions that deal with empowerment.
I Forgive You
I'm Letting Go
I'm Ready To Love Myself
I Know You're Sorry (even if you can't/won't say it)
I Forgive You
I Love You
What Happened Is In The Past
I Forgive You
I'm Letting Go
I Love Myself And I'm Moving On
Forgiveness work takes practice especially if you've been struggling with an issue for a while. Although these exercises are great places to start, don't hesitate to seek professional help if you're struggling with your emotions and forgiveness. In my practice, I use several forms of coaching, counseling, and emotional release to help you let go of any negativity you're holding onto, and step into a happier state of being. If you'd like to set up a free consultation or appointment, then you can find that information here.
Dr. April Darley helps you resolve stuck patterns of behavior through various methods of coaching and emotional release. By identifying self-sabotaging behaviors, she can help you regain confidence, improve relationships, remove blocks to health, wealth and success in any area of your life.