Abstract: Forgiveness is hard enough, even when we receive a heartfelt apology from a truly repentant person. But what if we will never hear “I’m sorry” from the person who wounded us? Can we ever move forward? Can we heal?
Thankfully, forgiveness and healing is still possible. Here, find four simple ways to release old hurts, take back power from those who caused pain, and regain joy and wellbeing in life.
Forgiveness is hard enough when the person who inflicted the wound acknowledges the pain they’ve caused and offers a heartfelt apology. This allows closure, and with closure comes forgiveness.
But what happens when an apology will never come? Perhaps the injurer is someone who doesn’t (and is unlikely to ever) think he’s wrong. Maybe the wound is from a friend from the distant past, or the perpetrator has passed away.
What then? How do we forgive? Can we heal?
It’s not only possible, it can be easier than one might think. Try these four simple ways to let unresolved hurts go:
1. Rewrite the experience.
While it might sound (and feel) silly, role-playing isn’t just reserved for actors; acting out the part of anyone that hurt us and offering ourselves an apology can be tremendously effective. Recent research on healing PTSD indicates that role-play is more effective than many other therapies used for recovery from traumatic events. Role-play, it turns out, helps us rewrite the experience in our minds, diffusing the pain associated with the memory.
Rather than physically acting it out, another option is to mentally rewrite it in your mind. To do so, sit or lie down in a comfortable position with eyes closed. Visualize the original experience, but this time, imagine that the people involved acted in ways which were supportive, rather than harming. Or, imagine that the individuals offer deeply personal and heart-felt apologies. Imagine yourself responding to these apologies. Make this as real as possible; really feel the emotions as if this was physically happening in the present moment.
For those of us that aren’t visual people, another method is to write it all out, either long-hand or typed. Remember to stay connected any emotions as you write.
2. Cut the cords that bind.
When we hold onto a grudge, we are spiritually connected to that old wound and the person who injured us. It’s like being an electrical power strip where the person who wounded us is plugged in and draining some of our power, sometimes for years.
An excellent way to release anything still drawing power is to imagine cutting the cord that connects us.
To do this, find a place that feels like a safe space. Sit comfortably with eyes closed. Visualize yourself inviting each person who harmed you into this safe space. Look down and see the cord that connects you to each other. When you are ready, say to this person, “I release you and I forgive you, and we are both now free.” Then, cut the cord and see this person disappear from the safe space.
3. Write a letter.
This is a classic exercise and an effective one. More often than not, we have a myriad of things we wish we could say to the person who hurt us. When it’s impossible (or unwise) to do so, a great option is to write a letter that will never be sent.
Write out everything that’s yearning to be said. Write about how the person made you feel, the way it still affects you now, and what you wish he or she would say to you. Write until you have no more words.
Then, take the letter to a safe place, and cut it up or burn it. As you do, say aloud, “ I forgive you and release this hurt from my mind, body, spirit, and life.”
4. Remember that forgiveness is critical for your wellbeing.
If it’s still hard to let it go, keep these words from Irish-American author Malachy McCourt in mind, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Choosing to hold on to old wounds hurts no one but ourselves. Those that hurt us are going about their lives, very likely impervious to the wrongs they’ve done. Our pain is not waking them in the middle of the night in a panic or making them too afraid to love again or keeping them from taking positive steps forward in life.
In contrast, when we hold onto unexpressed grief and internalized anger, it manifests into a range of illnesses from common aches and pains to more serious diseases like ulcers or cancer. Even if it doesn’t turn into an illness, it’s likely holding us back from being fully present in some areas of life and robbing us of the full happiness and richness we deserve.
Do you really want someone who hurt you to hold that much power over your life? How long has the old wound been affecting your life? Years? Decades?
Whatever length, it's too long. Don’t waste another second being poisoned by resentment. Take back power from old wounds (with or without an apology) and free yourself to live a happy, fulfilled life in the here and now.
Bio: Tara is an internationally-respected coach and speaker who uses her own empath nature as a gift throughout her work, helping others to heal. She’s also the author of the award-winning book The Flow Method: 40 Days to Total Life Transformation. Find out more about Tara’s work and get help healing here: www.TaraMeyerRobson.com.