Updated: Jul 12
Forgiveness is a topic I find people often touch upon in healing work, but few are actually able to explain the process of procurement. For this reason, I've done a deep dive into what it truly means to forgive based on research and a lifetime of first-hand experience in order to help you find release from stored stoic anger, resentment, guilt, shame and pain. Today, I want to get into the heart of forgiveness, and give you REAL ways to work on this key piece of the healing jigsaw that will help you transform your trauma, and have a ripple effect on all relationships within your world.
One of the very first stumbling blocks many have around forgiveness, is that it's not easy to actually define and therefore truly perceive. If you turn to a dictionary, you will read something along the lines of:
"the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven" (oxford languages dictionary).
"to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)" or "to give up resentment of or claim to requital" (Merriam webster).
The problem with dictionary definitions, is that they lack personal experience and true emotion, surmising that the authors most likely haven't experienced firstly the act of forgiving, or the wrong-doing that led to the need for it. A much better way to define it comes from Greater Good Berkeley "Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness". I've included the link for this entire article, so if you want to get REALLY clear on what it means and be able to process it, you can dive deeper. In my words, forgiveness, is freedom to move on with your life, releasing the energy of the events and people that have harmed you.
Ok, I Understand The Terms Of Forgiveness, What's Next?
Most articles that talk to this topic actually only circle around the ideas of what forgiveness means or perhaps feels like from a detached perspective, but don't actually give you the action steps that it requires to reach that goal. When you know forgiveness is something that will help release resentment, anger, burden, anxiety, distress, fear, related trauma triggers and even physical pain however, you want something concrete. You want momentum. You want to take action and be given a road map to release. You want inspired instructions that work for you, whom is most likely, someone that has been through something traumatic which has then made a lasting impression on your life at an emotional, mental, physical or even spiritual level.
Traumatic events and experiences don't just magically fade away with the sun as much as you would wish them to, but rather, they get segregated into the bones of your being, and you carry around their ill-fated after effects trying to squash them into a corner of your character that doesn't have to be responsible for the pain or dis-ease it will continue to cause over time. Forgiveness, if not made abundantly clear yet, is the key to moving on with your life, allowing you to hold nothing in your heart but gratitude, joy, love, and light; those 'high vibrational energies that will help you create the life of your dreams.
Step One: Make Time To Identify The Wounding
In order to forgive someone, the first thing you need to understand is why what they did/said hurt us so much, and understand the feelings that rose within you. For example, if your husband/wife had an affair, even though its painful, it's sometimes helpful to identify what feelings are happening as a result - they may even surprise you. Sometimes people can have uncomfortable feelings like relief for example, because they know at the core that the relationship was no longer working, but were/are afraid to walk away from it. Cheating can sometimes be the crux of change, which forces you into action, and will essentially help you move away from a dynamic that was holding you back from becoming your highest and greatest self. As you go through the next steps of forgiveness, you will come to identify this as the lesson you needed to learn, even though it hurts at the time.
Inspired Action: Try journaling about what you are really feeling in relation to the wound that has been caused, and allow yourself to go deep. Ask yourself "why has this come up for me?", "what emotions am I feeling?", "where am I hurting?" or even "what part of my life am I ignoring?". Sometimes there are layers upon layers of feelings that need to be uncovered in order for you to recover. If you need a little help, try booking "Transform & Manifest Greatness" that aims to release raw and real emotions around situations through an emotional release energy treatment, helping you learn, grow and relax into a mindful state of pure love. Other options for this first step are talk therapy; narrative therapy; creative mindfulness exercises like drawing, colouring or painting; walking in silence (phone free); utilising Labyrinths; taking time in nature to allow feelings to surface; yoga and meditating on why and how this situation has hurt you, what feelings are associated and where you feel it in your body.
Step Two: Grieve Your Losses
Once you've identified the feelings around your wounding, you can start to grieve the impact this has made on your life. If we go back to the first example of spousal cheating for example, the after effects of the cheating would have two ultimate paths 1) forgive and move on, working on healing the relationship or 2) parting ways and stepping into a new life of unknown. Either way, you would have some grieving to do for the life that was 'lost' as a result. This is often a hard emotion to connect with, as grief is generally an emotion that we relate to the loss of life through death; not the loss of a life we thought we had ahead of us. This example can also be applied to unexpected changes in your life that are as soul shattering as miscarriage; being made redundant; big travel plans being cancelled; or the after effects of covid that a lot of people are only allowing themselves to work through in recent months prompting unanticipated changes to rise from within.
Grieving is an important step in moving forward, because it helps us to identify what we are feeling, and what we lost as a result, so we can create a new vision for the future. The grieving period will be different for each person based on their emotional state and magnitude of their loss, so please go through this at your own pace and don't let anyone try and tell you to 'let it go and move on'. If you need some energetic assistance, I would highly recommend booking in an initial appointment and energy healing treatment to help you work through stagnant or stuck emotions - I'm not here to judge, and I always invite you in with an open mind and an open heart.
Inspired Action: Create a ceremony to let your loss be known and gently released from your life as and when you are ready, if you can, try and plan this for a full moon as this amplifies your intention of letting go. A simple ritual could be lighting a white candle (healing, connection with divine/god/goddess), writing about your loss and the feelings you want to let go of, then burning it with the intention of letting go and allowing the learned lesson to gravitate its way into your life with love and light. This is one of the hardest steps, because it's pushing you to accept changes that have happened in your life that you have no control over.
Step Three: Accept What Has Happened And Appreciate That You Can't Change It
So far, you've identified the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that have risen from what you've been through, and you've allowed yourself the appropriate time to grieve and let it go in your own, powerful way. As a result, you should now be at a point where you are able to sit with it, accept that it's happened, and appreciate that you can't change it or erase it - but you can move forward. This part is often hard, because we all know that change pushes us into the state of unfamiliar territory, and most people don't like being forced to change.
Change however, can have so many benefits so the aspect of acceptance can actually be a true pillar to finding the silver lining in the changes that the event will, and has created for us. It's an opportunity to seek a new, altered path, and if you choose to stay in a positive mindset, and focus on energies of love, light, joy and freedom; then this step should be a breeze. It's like the old adage "don't cry over spilt milk" reminds us; even though you didn't purposefully prompt the change, there is an underlaying intention within your soul journey that has manifested this opportunity to learn and grow, no matter how dreadful, painful, or hurtful it feels to you right now. When you accept that the event has happened and you can't do anything to change it; you are allowing it to stay in a moment of time that has passed, rather than trying to keep pulling it into your future and present allowing it to dictate your destiny.
Inspired Action: Meditate, meditate, meditate. Allow this to be the pivotal moment in your journey of forgiveness that inspires you to briefly revisit the past and start looking forward to the future. Hold your hands over your heart and breathe into the space, allowing yourself to feel safe, knowing that whatever has happened, was in the past, and cannot effect you any more than you will allow it. This middle step, highly aligns with the heart chakra energy of compassion and empathy by taking the time to work past grievance or any low vibrational feelings you've been harbouring, and giving yourself permission to feel good again. To to feel love again. To cultivate happiness, joy, and empathy for yourself and all that you've been through, and stay focused on these feelings to help guide your path forward. Try utilising guided meditations such as the violet flame, chord cutting, intention setting, or even decide to take a giant leap of faith into learning Reiki Level One in order to catapult your healing path through the heart. Acceptance can also bring you back into the space of journaling or writing a letter to the person that harmed you, even if you don't send it (and it's often better that you don't!). Depending on the depth of your despair, you might even choose this time to go on a spiritual retreat, take a journey overseas, change your career path, or allow yourself the time and space to go on a deep internal journey of self-discovery. Try and start seeing the light in the situation, and gently let the lessons simmer into your life. You can turn this into a life-changing pivot for personal development, or you can let it engulf you and hold you back in an old reality that is likely to only end in bitterness, resentment, and anger. If you are the type of person that likes movement, you can also try shaking out the energy of the situation through dance, yoga, cycling or any vigorous exercise that makes you sweat and gives you a pleasant feeling of physical fatigue. This is a great way to truly 'let go' of what isn't serving your highest and greatest good, and you can utilise it any time your mind starts wandering back into a world that was.
Step Four: Stop Waiting For An Apology, Nor For Them To Change
This might be hard to accept, but not every person that you forgive has the emotional empathy, capability, or intelligence to offer you an apology for their actions. In fact, some will never even be able to admit that they did you any harm, or may even hold you responsible for the events that took place. When you are able to let go of the idea of your ideal outcome (e.g. a heartfelt apology), and understand that the 'wounder' may never understand why your hurting or be able to change their behaviours/way of thinking, you will help set yourself free. You will understand that healing can only truly take place when you do the work alone, without external validation or influence. I've experienced, read, and witnessed this crucial step in the healing path of forgiveness; so hopefully this acknowledgement will help you save days, if not years of your life chasing something that will never materialise.
Inspired Action: Write yourself a letter of apology to validate your feelings, including all the heart felt emotions and acknowledgement you need, and burn it under a full moon as you do so, let go of all expectations with it.
Step Five: Let Go Of Blame
You know now that this person is never going to change or ever offer you the apology you've hoped for, so now, it's time to stop holding onto the thread that you have any control over them, or that they have any control over you. Now it's time to let go of the blame. This step can be utilised at any time of your journey, but in my experience, this is the perfect timing for it. When you allow yourself to stop blaming someone else for what happened you can gently examine the situation from an unbiased perspective, and see how some of the actions, thoughts or intentions you were holding may have added to the situation or made it come to fruition. I'm certainly not saying its your fault (remember we are letting go of all blame in this step!); I'm just trying to help you lesson the anger, frustration, guilt, betrayal, fear and other heavy emotions that you are harbouring against another person, so you can win at life again. Blaming isn't helpful for any situation, or against anyone including yourself. When you hold these feelings, it's kind of like holding your breath and hoping the other person will slowly reach their demise. Holding ill fated intentions or negative energy and emotions will only harm yourself in the end as its energy accumulates in your body and will eventually result in physical pain, strain, injury or illness (sometimes known as psychogenic pain). Trust me, the research is there. Try this peer reviewed article for a start. Your body keeps your secrets, so when your conscience is free; so are you.
Inspired Action: When you are ready, try and step into the shoes of the person that harmed you and invite in compassion at any level you can. Think about what may have happened in their life's journey that led them to be the person they are, or perform the actions they did. You don't need to excuse them, but when you come to an understanding like this, you can use it to move forward into the next steps. We all know 'hurt people hurt people'. So when you are going through this process of forgiveness, you are helping them heal what they don't know how to. You are doing the work in your own life that they weren't able to do for themselves. You are taking the high road, knowing that if nothing else, their karmic debt will catch up to them if they cannot change their ways and turn their life for the better, and that is a valuable thought process that can help your healing too. While 'revenge' might be something that floats into your mind right now, this isn't the angle I'm teaching, it's just a mere action of the universe that takes place if there is inaction on their behalf. Keep yourself accountable for any ill-fated intentions that rise in your mind, and ask yourself where its coming from. Ask yourself if you have truly let go of blame towards the other person. Ask if there is any blame that you hold towards yourself (this can often be mirrored when you blame others). Ask yourself if you can let go of blame in your heart, in your soul, and in your life. Utilise the meditative technique of Ho'oponopono to further this step if you need it - trust me, this can be life changing!
Step Six: Find The Lesson
Once you've identified the wounding; allowed time to grieve; accepted your situation; let go of needing an apology; and let go of blame; you are finally free to start looking into the light. Now, you have this beautiful opportunity to turn what may have been a really negative experience, into a pivotal moment in your life where you choose the positive. You choose to look at the other side of the coin. You choose light over dark, love over fear, and positive over negative. You choose to rise. This step will arise for you as you are ready, so again, don't hurry the process of completion as it's not a competition. Healing isn't a bandage, it's not a quick fix - its a REAL fix that will shift your reality and it deserves dedication and commitment to succeed.
Inspired Action: Journal. Ask yourself "what did I learn from this person?", "what were they here to teach me?", "what did I loose in the process, and what have I gained?" and lastly "who do I want to become in spite of it?". Asking yourself questions like this are best done in the morning as soon as you wake, after yoga, walking or meditation, or when you can take time away from technology to just be, instead of getting caught up in all the action. Allow yourself time to be, not just do. Some people may find this step easier to do through talk therapy too, so choose the way that works for you; just try not to dump this on your support network and hire a paid professional instead in order to keep your friendships and family connections strong, light and full of love.
Step Seven: Send Love & Light For The Person You Want To Forgive
The final step in forgiveness is an amalgamation of all the previous steps, allowing you to sit joyfully in your heart and send love, little by little, to the person that harmed you. I understand how hard or even impossible this can seem, which is why I've saved it for the very last step. However, it is a crucial moment in your timeline that will really, honestly, authentically help you move on with life on your terms. When you can shift into a place that propels you from 'victim' to 'wisdom warrior'; you too will see and understand why this graduating step is included. Below is my last offering of inspired action that can be repeated as many times as needed, adding or subtracting steps as you need.
Inspired Action: Light a green or pink candle promoting love, compassion, empathy and forgiveness; and place your hands over your heart. Let all the work from the previous steps arise as you need to feel safe, secure, and strong in who and where you are.
Think about all of the things in your life that you are grateful for. List them.
Think of all the things that bring you joy. List them.
Think of all the moments in your life that have brought you happiness, good health, or wealth. List them.
Think of all the people that make your life great, worth living, worth every breath of positive energy you have. List them.
Knowing all of this to be true, understand how blessed you are to be here in this moment, ready to truly forgive the person that made your life complicated, difficult or uncomfortable. Smile. Let the love you have for everyone and everything light up your whole body and being from feet to head, and flow into the centre of your chest.
Now, with all that love and gratitude in your heart, think of the person that harmed you, and gently share this love with them, little by little, bit by bit as and when you can. Send it to them in your mind with positive intentions of healing not only your internal world, but the world around you and there's too. Send them joy, hope, peace and healing energies for their own journey, knowing that by sharing even a little of what you have in stores; it will help not only your wounds heal, but it will help them become a better person; one whom is afar less likely to ever harm another again. Listen to the words of wisdom arriving in your mind, and let the answers guide your session as to when it needs to end. As it does, blow out the candle letting any negative energy that was roused within you go, along with the space in your heart that you don't need to hold for them anymore. Journal as you need, or perhaps try pulling an oracle card to guide you towards the next steps you should take to keep creating a better life.
One last piece of advice on the journey of forgiveness? Love yourself. Anytime and always. You are going through something that no one else can truly understand, so its up to you to give yourself the love, compassion, time, and space you need to complete these steps.
You can revisit any or all of these steps any time you need; and if you know someone going through a difficult time as defined, please feel free to share it with them too.
Love & light,
Monique Elouise xx
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