“How am I going to get over this?” “When am I going to feel better?”
These are typical questions I’ll hear in therapy from clients trying to recover from a partner’s affair. Perhaps like you, these clients want to be assured that in six months or a year they’re going to be rid of this tremendous pain.
There’s no magic bullet when it comes to healing from an affair. And there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to. Some marriages become stronger after a betrayal but affair work is nothing short of brutal. Any couple who’s successfully done it will tell you that. If you’re considering giving forgiveness a shot, here are the must-haves for your post-affair toolkit:
1. A sincere promise the other relationship is over.
Goes without saying. If you’ve discovered an ongoing affair, you need to be sure your partner is willing to completely call it quits with the other person — and that includes no communication or friendship. Otherwise, why would you consider forgiveness? There’s no chance at healing if he resists ending the other relationship.
2. A heartfelt apology.
You won’t make much headway without this one. If your partner hasn’t offered a profoundly genuine apology, you still need one. Ask for it. If she’s blaming you or the marriage for the affair, she isn’t taking responsibility and you’re not feeling her remorse.
3. An open book.
Your cheating partner has now forfeited his rights to his pre-affair privacy. To acknowledge that, he needs to commit to what I call the “kitchen table policy.” That is, everything must now be available for your perusal, including cell phones, tablets and computers. If he won’t tell you his passwords, your suspicions won’t abate. You need access — whether you take advantage of it or not.
4. Ongoing efforts.
Is she continuing to let you know how sorry she is? Is she acknowledging the suffering she’s caused you? Does she approach you — unprompted — to address the issue? If she doesn’t, you’ll feel quite isolated in your pain and resentful that the onus is on you to fix this. Affair recovery takes two. You need a supportive, open partner to help you move on.
5. An honest evaluation of the relationship.
If an affair is a symptom that something’s wrong in the marriage, well, what is wrong in the marriage? Even if you’re not the one who cheated, ask yourself if the relationship has met your needs and if it’s worth saving. Getting beyond an affair is going to take a lot of time, heartache and patience. Why bother going nuts over his affair if the relationship has run its course?
6. A timeline.
Right now you may feel like you’ll be miserable forever. Do yourself a solid and put some time limits in place. If you’re pretty sure you want to stay in the relationship, give yourself at least a year and then reassess. Discovering your partner has been unfaithful is nothing short of an emotional trauma. You wouldn’t expect to get over the death of someone you love in a couple of months. Treat your affair recovery with that same respect and sensitivity.
7. A fair assessment of your capacity to forgive.
Be honest with yourself. Are you really ever going to be able to move beyond this? Not everyone can. Have you historically been able to forgive easily or at all? Are you the type of person who holds grudges? If so, you have a big decision to make. You can stay or you can leave, but don’t stay in the marriage just to torture your partner about her affair. Can you hate the act but forgive the actor?
8. Some knowledge of the affair.
I caution clients who say they want all the details of their partner’s affair. Why? Because once you know these crushing tidbits, you can’t un-know them. Then, you have to carry that knowledge and visual for the rest of your days. So, you really don’t want to know they had sex in the janitor’s closet at the office, but you might want to know just how serious this other relationship was. Was it a one-time quickie? Or was it a five-year love story? Knowing what the other relationship meant to your partner — and to your marital history — can go a long way in helping you figure out what you need to do.
9. Realistic expectations.
If you’re expecting to wake up one day and have all remnants of the affair be gone, you’re going to be disappointed. No matter how successful you may be in moving forward, the affair has changed your relationship forever. Even couples who overcome the betrayal will still acknowledge the affair as a game-changer. You may forgive but you won’t forget. And that may be a good thing. It’s a reminder to both of you that your relationship is precious — and that neither one of you would ever do anything to recreate such a painful time.
When You Can’t Trust a Friend
We know that forgiveness is a powerful and healing force in a relationship, but there can also be a time when you want to move on from someone. Perhaps you have forgiven over and over in the past, and you feel as if your friend just does not understand how to be a friend. Maybe you have been hurt so badly that you can’t trust your friend again. Or maybe your pal just didn’t “get it” when they behaved badly and think what they did is no big deal.
In times like this, you may feel the need to distance yourself from a friend. This decision can be permanent or temporary. Only you know what is the right thing for you and your friendship. Either way, you’ll still need to forgive before you can move on in a healthy way.
Shouldn’t You Stay Friends If You Forgive?
A common myth is that if you forgive someone, you still have him or her in your life. But there are certain circumstances where you can forgive a friend and feel no ill will towards them, but still, prefer to move on with your life without them.
Some may assume that if you’ve moved on from a relationship you must be angry about it. This is not true. Moving on with forgiveness is simply stating that you wish the person the best (and mean it), you’re “over” the situation that caused a rift (however long or short the argument was), but you no longer want this particular friendship and all it brings, in your life. Maybe your friend was a continual negative influence and their repeated issues caused a lot of drama in your life. Or perhaps your pal disrespected your friendship in a big way and you no longer feel that it is a safe place for you.
In these instances, you forgive to rid yourself of the drama and hurt but move on to protect the sense of peace that your life deserves. There is a line between forgiving and repeatedly allowing someone to treat you badly.
Are You Holding on to Anger?
Unfortunately, people can hold on to a lot of anger before they allow forgiveness to transform their heart and emotions. Have you been harboring anger? Some signs that you are include:
- Replaying the argument with your friend over and over.
- Continually asking “why” (silently or to other people) things happened the way they did.
- Becoming short-tempered with other friends in your life.
- Assuming that other people will treat you the same as your friend did, so you stop trying with people.
- Talking about your friend even though they aren’t around.
If you haven’t forgiven yet, take a moment to realize that holding on to the negativity of a past argument only prevents you from happiness now. Picture your heart as something that can only hold so much emotion, and when a certain percent of it is filled with anger, that portion cannot accept anything good. While that might be an odd thing to imagine, it is basically what you’re doing when you allow a previous hurt to cloud your present life.
How Do You Forgive If You’ve Already Moved on From a Friend?
But how do you forgive and move on? First, realize that the person you’re angry with probably is not thinking about it as much as you are. (Even if they were the one at fault.) This should help motivate you to let it all go.
Second, while your friend might have hurt you, you then made the smart step to get distance. You didn’t allow hurt to be a common theme in your friendship forever. You took action, and as hard as it was, it’s for your own health and peace of mind.
Now for the hard part, which is removing the pain that your friend’s carelessness left behind. Know that we all deal with repercussions for our actions in different ways. Your friend losing you as a part of their life was a big consequence of their behavior.
Also, we all make mistakes, and even when we don’t want to admit it, we learn from them. Some of us have to make the same mistake over and over before it sinks in. That might be the position your friend is in right now.
Most of all, forgiveness is a gift for you. It doesn’t mean your friend was right to hurt you but instead allows you to stop thinking about them and focus on your own life and happiness. You might not feel the love you once felt for your friend, but you don’t need to hate them anymore, either. In time, you will feel genuine affection for your friend, even if you still prefer not to have them in your life.
“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”
Jean Paul Sartre
Like so many other women, I had a complicated, often fractious relationship with my mother. I had moved thousands of miles away, but an email or a phone call was enough to irritate me.
Visits were tense, nail-biting experiences, where I couldn’t help but analyze each thing that she said to see if it contained a passive-aggressive double meaning, at which point an argument would brew.
For years it had not mattered what anyone told me about how to forgive, and they had told me a lot:
- Resentment is the poison you feed yourself, hoping someone else will die.
- Forgiveness is a choice.
- Refusing to forgive is living in the past.
I thought I wanted to forgive her. I knew what it was costing me to carry around the resentment, the replaying of old arguments and the anticipation of future conflict.
Yet something in me didn’t want to forgive, and this was the truth that I had resisted owning for so very long.
We don’t like admitting to the fact that some petty part of ourselves doesn’t want to forgive people. We say we “don’t know how,” and that might be true, but the other truth is that some part of us often doesn’t want to forgive.
We don’t want to admit that this part exists, because of all the stories it piles on top of us—stories that we’re mean, petty, judgmental people.
Of course, we’re expressing mean, petty, judgmental behaviors when we refuse to forgive.
It’s not intentional. It’s just that we’ve been hurt, and forgiveness feels like letting someone off the hook, or pretending that it was okay that they did what they did.
The irrational fear is that if we forgive, someone else will do “it” again. But the truth is, whether or not we forgive has nothing to do with controlling another person’s behavior.
People do what they do. The only person to let off the hook is ourselves, by not concerning ourselves with monitoring someone else’s behavior, or replaying the past.
So, how can you move through the process of forgiving others?
These aren’t “easy steps” by any means, especially because many of them are worked in tandem, but nonetheless they are pieces that make up the whole.
First, acknowledge the parts of you that don’t want to forgive.
The parts that want to punish by not forgiving, that derive some artificial source of power from withholding forgiveness.
It’s a sign of health that we become aware of those places rather than pushing them away, pretending that they don’t exist.
Secondly, if you’re aware already of the fact that you don’t want to forgive, consider the stories that go along with that.
I’ve already mentioned a few. Perhaps the most common is that forgiveness will mean that someone is absolved from responsibility for their behavior.
Here is what I know: When someone wrongs another, they always suffer. They might not tell you about it, or they might put on a bravado. They might not even be aware that their behavior is at the root of their suffering.
But trust me, they suffer. If someone is unkind, they suffer from either the conscious belief that they were unkind, or they suffer from the unconscious fallout of their behavior. (“I don’t understand why people leave/I always get fired/I feel so isolated and alone.”)
Third, find the common ground.
Where are you just like this person that you don’t want to forgive? This is the part that people resist most.
Perhaps your partner cheated on you, and you know for certain that you would never cheat on your partner. But, if cheating is a form of deception, can you see places in your life where you have deceived someone else? Are you 100 percent honest on your taxes? Did you ever shoplift as a teenager? Do you tell “little white lies” at work?
No, I would never suggest that a cheating partner is equally as painful as stuffing a t-shirt into your purse when you were a young, reckless teenager.
What I’m suggesting is that the two are borne of the same places. Deceit has its roots in fear—fear of being honest, fear of not getting something needed.
When we see that we are equally as capable of acting out as the next person, and especially when we compassionately see the fear that drove them to behave the way they did, there’s the potential for release.
Finally—and this is the big one—realize that lack of forgiveness is rooted in a lack of boundaries.
This goes back to the fear that if forgiveness were granted, “it” might happen again because the person thought that they could “get away with” it.
The person you know you need to forgive in your life might not even be alive anymore, but if they’re alive and real in your head, that’s enough.
This is the moment of choice: Are you going to decide that you won’t tolerate XYZ behavior, dynamics, and beliefs in your life?
The moment that you decide that you won’t tolerate the behaviors that led you not to forgive is the moment that things shift.
Caution: In movies the hero or heroine “gets back” at someone and then walks off into a happy ending.
That’s not what we’re talking about here. If your boss routinely puts you down, you don’t tell her off and that’s your “power.”
Rather, you decide that you won’t tolerate the put-downs, you come up with a plan for how you’re going to handle it when they arise, and then you actually assert that boundary, while looking at her with pure love because you know that her put downs are causing her immense suffering (even if you can’t see the suffering).
What happens in moments like these is that the put downs become about as believable as a drunk, homeless man who is shouting obscenities on the street. He’s clearly not altogether there, and you can have compassion for him because his suffering is so visible and his words so illogical.
Here’s the big secret: When humans are unkind to one another, they’re not so very different than that guy. Many of us are just using different language and wearing nicer clothes.
When you decide what boundaries to put in to place, and what you will and won’t stand for, you release the fear that “it” will happen again. What “it” can touch you when you’ve already decided that you aren’t going to let it penetrate?
The moment came—and it was a completely innocuous moment for me, sitting in six lanes of backed up traffic, my thoughts discursive—when I realized that when it concerned forgiving my mother, I get to decide who I am.
My life was what I said it was, and a painful relationship with her need not be a part of it any longer, if I decided that it was so. I knew that all I wanted to do was simply love this woman who had given me life and who had taught me so much about who I wanted to be.
There was nothing but gratitude in my heart.
Before my own experience of deep forgiveness, as I waded through years bouncing from one therapist’s couch to the next trying to “figure out” how to forgive, I would have thought this moment impossible. I would have doubted the elegance of its simplicity.
But it really is true: “Freedom is what we do with what’s been done to us.”
It is not the circumstances of our lives that matter. It is what we choose to do with them.
We’ve all been hurt. You can’t be an adult — or teen — alive today who hasn’t experienced some kind of emotional pain.
It hurts. I get that.
But what you do with that hurt is probably more important than the hurt itself. Would you prefer to get back to being an active liver of life? Or do you prefer to ruminate endlessly about the past and something that cannot be changed?
In short, how do you let go of past hurts and move on? Let’s find out…
Blaming others for our hurt is what most of us start off doing. Somebody did something wrong, or they wronged us in some way that mattered to us. We want them to apologize. We want them to acknowledge what they did was wrong.
But blaming someone else for our hurt can backfire, as Holly Brown notes:
The problem with blaming others is that it can often leave you powerless. For example, you confront the person (your boss, your spouse, your parent, your child), and they say, “No, I didn’t,” or worse, “So what if I did?”, then you’re left with all this anger and hurt and no resolution.
All your feelings are legitimate. It’s important to feel them fully, and then move on. Nursing your grievances indefinitely is a bad habit, because (as the title goes) it hurts you more than it hurts them.
People who hold on to these past hurts often relive the pain over and over in their minds. Sometimes a person can even get “stuck” in this pain, in this hurt, in this blame.
The only way you can accept new joy and happiness into your life is to make space for it. If your heart is filled full-up with pain and hurt, how can you be open to anything new?
1. Make the decision to let it go.
Things don’t disappear on their own. You need to make the commitment to “let it go.” If you don’t make this conscious choice up-front, you could end up self-sabotaging any effort to move on from this past hurt.
Making the conscious decision to let it go also means accepting you have a choice to let it go. To stop reliving the past pain, to stop going over the details of the story in your head every time you think of the other person (after you finish step 2 below). This is empowering to most people, knowing that it is their choice to either hold on to the pain, or to live a future life without it.
2. Express your pain — and your responsibility.
Express the pain the hurt made you feel, whether it’s directly to the other person, or through just getting it out of your system (like venting to a friend, or writing in a journal, or writing a letter you never send to the other person). Get it all out of your system at once. Doing so will also help you understand what — specifically — your hurt is about.
We don’t live in a world of black and whites, even when sometimes it feels like we do. While you may not have had the same amount of responsibility for the hurt you experienced, there may have been a small part of the hurt that you are also partially responsible for. What could you have done differently next time? Are you an active participant in your own life, or simply a hopeless victim? Will you let your pain become your identity? Or are you someone deeper and more complex than that??
3. Stop being the victim and blaming others.
Being the victim feels good — it’s like being on the winning team of you against the world. But guess what? The world largely doesn’t care, so you need to get over yourself. Yes, you’re special. Yes, your feelings matter. But don’t confuse with “your feelings matter” to “your feelings should override all else, and nothing else matters.” Your feelings are just one part of this large thing we call life, which is all interwoven and complex. And messy.
In every moment, you have that choice — to continue to feel bad about another person’s actions, or to start feeling good. You need to take responsibility for your own happiness, and not put such power into the hands of another person. Why would you let the person who hurt you — in the past — have such power, right here, right now?
No amount of rumination of analyses have ever fixed a relationship problem. Never. Not in the entirety of the world’s history. So why choose to engage in so much thought and devote so much energy to a person who you feel has wronged you?
4. Focus on the present — the here and now — and joy.
Now it’s time to let go. Let go of the past, and stop reliving it. Stop telling yourself that story where the protagonist — you — is forever the victim of this other person’s horrible actions. You can’t undo the past, all you can do is to make today the best day of your life.
When you focus on the here and now, you have less time to think about the past. When the past memories creep into your consciousness (as they are bound to do from time to time), acknowledge them for a moment. And then bring yourself gently back into the present moment. Some people find it easier to do this with a conscious cue, such as saying to yourself, “It’s alright. That was the past, and now I’m focused on my own happiness and doing _______________.”
Remember, if we crowd our brains — and lives — with hurt feelings, there’s little room for anything positive. It’s a choice you’re making to continue to feel the hurt, rather than welcoming joy back into your life.
5. Forgive them — and yourself.
We may not have to forget another person’s bad behaviors, but virtually everybody deserves our forgiveness. Sometimes we get stuck in our pain and our stubbornness, we can’t even imagine forgiveness. But forgiveness isn’t saying, “I agree with what you did.” Instead, it’s saying, “I don’t agree with what you did, but I forgive you anyway.”
Forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s simply saying, “I’m a good person. You’re a good person. You did something that hurt me. But I want to move forward in my life and welcome joy back into it. I can’t do that fully until I let this go.”
Forgiveness is a way of tangibly letting something go. It’s also a way of empathizing with the other person, and trying to see things from their point of view.
And forgiving yourself may be an important part of this step as well, as sometimes we may end up blaming ourselves for the situation or hurt. While we indeed may have had some part to play in the hurt (see step 2), there’s no reason you need to keep beating yourself up over it. If you can’t forgive yourself, how will you be able to live in future peace and happiness?
I know this stuff is hard and that it’s incredibly hard to let go of one’s pain — I’ve struggled with this myself. If we’ve held onto it for a long time, it feels like an old friend. Justified. It would be sacrilegious to let it go.
But nobody’s life should be defined by their pain. It’s not healthy, it adds to our stress, it hurts our ability to focus, study and work, and it impacts every other relationship we have (even the ones not directly affected by the hurt). Every day you choose to hold on to the pain is another day everybody around you has to live with that decision. And feel its consequences.
So do everybody — and yourself — a big favor: Let go of the pain. Do something different today and welcome happiness back into your life.
I knew I had forgiven him. At least, I thought I had. But as I spotted him from a distance coming up the aisle at the grocery store, a familiar pain pinched my stomach. I scurried over to the next aisle, ducking out of view. I began to wonder. Had I really forgiven this person who hurt me? I remember speaking words of forgiveness in prayer, but did I accept them in my heart?
Jesus gave us the ultimate example of how to forgive when he willingly hung on a cross to offer us forgiveness for our own sins. He spoke the powerful words, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NLT) This unfathomable demonstration of sacrifice showed how important it is for us to forgive. Yet we still struggle with it. So how can we forgive someone in our prayers and know we truly mean it with our hearts?
Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” The words Paul shared with the church in the verses that follow can serve as instruction when we pray to forgive those who hurt us. Forgiveness is hard. But with God’s Word as our guide, we can learn to forgive even in the deepest places of pain. We can fully release the hurt and move forward with a newfound compassion for our offender.
Have you struggled to forgive that person who hurt you? Here is a prayer for forgiving them. Let’s join together in prayer with these words to our Heavenly Father. May they help us offer the gift of forgiveness today.
Dear Merciful Lord,
Thank you for your gift of forgiveness. Your only Son loved me enough to come to earth and experience the worst pain imaginable so I could be forgiven. Your mercy flows to me in spite of my faults and failures. Your Word says to “clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3:14) Help me demonstrate unconditional love today, even to those who hurt me.
I understand that even though I feel scarred, my emotions don’t have to control my actions. Father, may Your sweet words saturate my mind and direct my thoughts. Help me release the hurt and begin to love as Jesus loves. I want to see my offender through my Savior’s eyes. If I can be forgiven, so can he. I understand there are no levels to your love. We are all your children, and your desire is that none of us should perish.
You teach us to “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts.” (Col. 3:15) When I forgive in words, allow your Holy Spirit to fill my heart with peace. I pray this peace that only comes from Jesus will rule in my heart, keeping out doubt and questions. And above all, I am thankful. Not just today, not just this week, but always. Thank you for the reminder, “Always be thankful.” (Col. 3:15) With gratitude I can draw closer to you and let go of unforgiveness. With gratitude I can see the person who caused my pain as a child of the Most High God. Loved and accepted. Help me find the compassion that comes with true forgiveness.
And when I see the person who hurt me, bring this prayer back to my remembrance, so I can take any ungodly thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) And may the confidence of Christ in my heart guide me into the freedom of forgiveness. I praise you for the work you are doing in my life, teaching and perfecting my faith.
Earlier I shared with you why it’s so important to forgive people who’ve hurt you. It’s important for you, and it’s important for your church. Way too many Christians aren’t fulfilling God’s purpose for their life because they’re harboring past hurts. And way too many churches are suffering because of it. In this article, I’m going to share with you three steps that you and those you lead can take to forgive those who’ve hurt you.
1. Relinquish your right to get even.
You have to start by letting the person who has hurt you off the hook. That’s not fair, you say? You’re right. Forgiveness isn’t fair. It wasn’t fair when God forgave you, and it’s not fair for you to forgive someone else. God doesn’t give us what we deserve. He gives us what we need.
The Bible says God is just. One day he’ll settle the score. In the meantime, we must let God fill our hearts with peace and grace.
The Bible says in Romans 12:19 (TLB), “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it.” The first step to forgiveness is to commit to not take justice into your own hands. Let God be the impartial judge.
Free CP Newsletters
Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!
Free CP Newsletters
Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!
Every time you remember how you’ve been hurt, release it. It’s got to be constant. When Jesus was asked how often we should forgive someone who sins against us, he said 70 times seven. Or in other words, we just keep forgiving.
How do you know when you’ve totally released the hurt? It doesn’t hurt any more. You might have to forgive someone a thousand times to make that a reality. But every time the pain comes to your mind you say, “God, I give it to you again. For the hundredth time, Lord, I’m letting them off the hook and relinquishing my right to get even.” Every time you rehearse it, you make the pain deeper. But every time you release it, the pain gets weaker in your life.
2. Refocus on God’s purpose for your life.
You can either focus on the past or the future – not both. Focus in on what God wants to do in your life. As long as you focus on the person who has hurt you, they control you. You don’t want anyone who has hurt you in the past to control you in the present. You want God to control your life.
The truth is, if you don’t release the person who has hurt you, then you will resemble him. Whatever you focus on, you’ll become like. If you focus on pain, that’s what you move toward. If you focus on purpose, that’s what you move toward.
How do you do that? The Bible tells us in Job 11: 13-16, “Put your heart right, reach out to God. then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more.”
Put your heart right. That just means do the right thing. Forgive the person. Let him off the hook.
Reach out to God. Ask Jesus Christ to come into the situation and fill you with his love.
Face the world again. Don’t withdraw. Don’t put yourself in a shell. You can’t love without being vulnerable. And a loveless life is diametrically opposed to God’s purpose for your life.
3. Respond to the evil with good.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:21 (NIV), “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” There’s a lot of evil in this world. You don’t overcome it by criticizing it. You overcome it with good.
At Saddleback, we’re not a culture-war church. We don’t spend our time criticizing what the world does. We don’t expect unbelievers to act like believers until they are. You don’t change the world by criticizing it.
Through the PEACE Plan, we’ve sent thousands of teams around the world since 2004 to confront evil with good by promoting reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, and educating the next generation.
One country we’ve focused on is Rwanda. You’ve probably heard or read about the horrible atrocities that took place in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Hatred was everywhere. But God has done amazing things in that country. Last year Bishop John Rucyahana visited Saddleback, and together we spoke to the church about this topic. That day he shared this in regard to the amazing recovery process that’s going on in his home country:
“My brothers and sisters, the Jesus we worship, the Lord we praise and have faith in, is the key to restoring relationships. You cannot invest in disparity and get good results…In Rwanda we cannot afford revenge…We have to engage in reconciliation…We have to face our weakness, our feeble state of life, our sins. We have to face them head on with Jesus Christ in the middle of life, in order to make a nation again. We have to live.
We don’t invest anymore in the hurt. We invest in hope. It’s amazing that when you see the hope through the lens of Jesus Christ, your hope is very bright. Very, very bright. Rwanda can be the hub of African development. People will be coming to us to learn. But not because we shall claim it. No. It’s to the glory of God. It’s God doing it. God does the reconstruction. God does things in his own mighty, divine way.”
That’s a big-picture example of responding to evil with good. You can do it in your own life too. When someone hurts you, do something good for them. Is it easy? Of course not. Every bone in your body wants to respond to evil with evil. But forgiveness happens when we respond with good.
I hope you’ll challenge your congregation to do this – really do this – in their own life. This fall, we’ll give you a great tool to help them on this journey of forgiveness. To learn more about the Life’s Healing Choices spiritual-growth campaign, visit www.lifeshealingchoices.com.
Free CP Newsletters
Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!
Free CP Newsletters
Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!
At some point in our lives, in some way or another, we have all been screwed over by someone else. Maybe it was by an ex or a friend. Maybe it was by a colleague or classmate. Maybe it was even by a family member or a roommate.
Regardless of your relationship to the person, being screwed over by someone can really, well, suck. We have placed our trust in this person and, somehow, they have let us down. They have done the thing that we didn’t think they would’ve done. As a result, we feel hurt, angry, and, overall, betrayed.
Dealing with these emotions aren’t always the easiest thing. We can find ourselves caught up in these emotional responses — and so, as a result, we unable to think clearly about the reality of our situation. So here are things to remember when you’ve been screwed over by someone:
1. Revenge may not always be the best option. When these types of things happen, it is likely that we may feel the urge to “get back at” the person in some way. This may be by telling anyone and everyone about how this person hurt you in hopes that “what goes around, comes around”. This may also involve doing other things a bit more strategically in order to get back at them in some way.
The problem is that, in doing this, many times (not always, but many times) we are actually dragging ourselves down to their level. In trying to get back at them, we aren’t necessarily making ourselves “the bigger person” in the situation. And, as a result, it is also likely that we are just wearing ourselves out with all the stress we are giving ourselves in the process of it all.
Often times the best thing that we can do is to simply let it go and trust that the universe (through the process of karma) will take care of it. Know and trust that everyone will ultimately get what they deserve — including you! Remember that! 😉
2. The only person who you really have control over is yourself. Another thing that we may try to do when we’ve been screwed over by someone else is to try and control the entire situation ourselves. Maybe we may try to talk to them in hopes to try to force them to change a decision they had made or just really try to get this other person to see and understand our side of things.
Though I can 100% relate to this, the unfortunate reality is that we really can’t control the other person. The only person is this world who we really have control over is ourselves. Which leads me to saying that the reality is that.
3. The let downs shows us how we can improve so it doesn’t happen again. When we’ve been screwed over we can find ourselves wishing we could turn back the clock and do things in a different way so that we somehow could have avoided being screwed over all together. Maybe it involved saying “No” to a request earlier in the relationship or asking the person more questions before making an agreement.
Even though being screwed over does certainly suck, the benefit is that it does teach us how to be stronger in the future. It teaches us how we can better cover our bases in our future relationships (of any and all kinds). It helps us to better refine our boundaries of what we are willing to tolerate and what we are not willing to tolerate. It also helps us know all the right questions that we need to ask and things we need to talk about with the other person so that all the things we need to know are out in the open.
And, finally, it does also teach us about forgiveness. It reinforces the teaching that people do not always know how much they have really truly hurt us — and that goes for both others and ourselves. Rarely do any of us really truly fully know how much we have hurt other people in our lives.
Because of this truth, it is vital to forgive — both ourselves and others — for not knowing better.
Take action now!
Take a moment right now to reflect on someone who has screwed you over. This may have been recently or several months or years ago. Based on the list above in the article, which of the three things do you most need to remember in order to heal from this let down?
Do you still find yourself wanting revenge and you need to let go of it? Do you still find yourself wanting to control this person to change their mind? Are you struggling to really accept how you can change yourself so this doesn’t happen in the future? Share it in the comments below!
This blog was originally published on JenniferTwardowski.com
Jennifer is a self and relationship coach and teacher. She helps women worldwide create fulfilling relationships with both themselves and others so they can live happy and joyful lives. Click here for her Free Self and Relationship Healing Meditation.
How Can I Forgive Someone I Hate?
Jun 07, 2006 #1 2006-06-07T02:58
How Can I Forgive Someone I Hate?
Corrie ten Boom
When people talk about the three little words that are so hard to say, they usually mean “I love you.” But three other little words can be a lot tougher: “I forgive you.”
Whether you’re watching a murderer paraded on TV or looking into the eyes of a friend who really hurt you, words of forgiveness don’t usually spring to your lips. Yet the Bible commands us to forgive.
Christian author and speaker Corrie ten Boom had a lot to be angry about. During WWII, she saw her native Holland overrun by Nazis. She was imprisoned and tortured in a concentration camp. She watched her sister Betsie starve to death. But as this story shows, by the strength of God, she was able to forgive her worst enemy.
It was in a church in Munich that I saw him, a balding heavy-set man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.
And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!
Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.
“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there.” No, he did not remember me.
“But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein” his hand came out, “will you forgive me?”
And I stood there,I whose sins had every day to be forgiven,and could not. Betsie had died in that place,could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it. I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion,I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.
Precious Lord in heaven, please give me the strength and love in my heart to forgive others their trespasses just as you forgive mine. In your son’s holy name I pray, Amen
In this life, it’s very possible that we will have encounters with multiple people in which they hurt our feelings deeply and show little to no remorse. One of the hardest things to do is to learn how to forgive someone despite the pain they have caused you. However, once you figure out what works for you, you will undoubtedly experience less longterm pain created by others.
We can’t control their actions, but with some practice, we can control how we react to them. We’ve put together a list of things for you to consider and try if you’re struggling with how to forgive someone who isn’t sorry.
Here’s how to forgive someone who isn’t sorry:
Turn Your Focus Inward
Forgiving is often associated with absolving the person who hurt you from their wrongdoing, but, if you change focus from them to yourself, you’re able to work on the things you can control. Ask yourself, what do I need to feel better right now? Practice giving yourself whatever it is that you need. By focusing on what you need in the present moment, you remove yourself from the past experience and take action towards making yourself feel happy. Making yourself a priority is one of the most powerful ways to heal yourself.
“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” -Deepak Chopra
Take Responsibility for Your Feelings
The words and actions of others can absolutely hurt us, but when we’re learning how to forgive someone we have to learn how to take responsibility for our own feelings. Though it may be challenging at first, we can only blame others for how we feel for so long. You must realize that when you’re holding onto grudges it only hurts yourself.
“By changing the way you choose to perceive the power that others have over you… you’ll see a bright new world of unlimited potential for yourself… you’ll know instantly how to forgive and let go of anything.” -Dr. Wayne W Dyer
Recognize the Part You Played
This is one of the hardest parts of forgiveness but a necessary component in our personal growth. Our ego wants us to feel hurt without having to take any responsibility for the part we played in whatever happened but the truth is that not everything is one-sided. Though the person who hurt you may have a cold personality, ask yourself if there was anything you may have done to provoke them and answer yourself honestly. In acknowledging your part, you will be able to let go of the negative feelings you are holding for someone more quickly because it forces you to realize that no one is perfect and arguments are typically a two-way street.
“It can be hard to forgive and let go but it’s important to remember that harboring the resentment and holding a grudge can hurt you even more. The word ‘forgive’ really means to give something up for yourself, not for them.” -Jack Canfield