Never! He/She/They don’t deserve it! Why should I, after all that has happened?!!! Have you said that or thought that? Welcome to the club.
Let’s start with what forgiveness isn’t.
Forgiveness isn’t weakness. It’s not dismissiveness. It doesn’t have to include reconciliation. Many people think that if they forgive their ex (or someone who has wronged them), they’re sending the message that what that person did to them was okay.
Contrary to what you might believe, forgiveness is actually a powerful healing tool. It’s not about the person who did you wrong – but about releasing the negative energy that you hold for them. Forgiving someone means protecting yourself from future harm, while opening up space in your heart to receive better for yourself. It means moving past the victim mentality to a place of empowerment.
If there was a lot of pain, hurt, and anger in your relationship, then you might be struggling with this concept. In this case, you’ll probably have to forgive someone over and over, so it’s best to think of it as an ongoing process rather than an event. Also, you may need to start with something as simple as: I would like to be willing to forgive this person, I’m just not there yet.
Over time, you will likely get to a place where you can practice forgiveness.
How to Practice Forgiveness
To get started, pick one small thing, hold it in your mind, and then visualize saying to the person: “I forgive you for _____, and I am going to let the energy go now.” Picture a small fire burning away the issue or a butterfly flying away. Then, imagine something beautiful growing (like a tree or a flower) – that is your forgiveness. Our mind has a way of letting those thoughts of being hurt sneak back in, so if that happens, picture what grew and remind yourself: “I released that already and replaced it with something beautiful.”
Keep practicing, and it will get easier.
Things to Remember
You’re allowed to forgive someone while keeping a safe distance from them. And you may need to keep a safe distance for your own protection. Depending on the circumstance, you don’t always need to tell the person you’ve forgiven them. It’s for your own well-being anyway, remember?
You cannot control what happens to you in life. You can only control how you react. Choose to feel empowered, rather than staying stuck in a victim mentality. Don’t give people more power over you than they deserve.
Lastly, look to the Bible for wisdom, and ask God for help when you’re struggling.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Are you considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and struggling to heal? Check out RISEilient, the divorce recovery resource I created that’s full of tools and advice to help you heal and give you hope during and after divorce.