You were married to him for twenty five years and stayed through some pretty bad times, raised the children almost singe-handedly so he could pursue his career, and then, when life was beginning to balance out and you could see the good times ahead, he filed for divorce because he was in love with his very young secretary. You didn’t see it coming and you were devastated. There are no answers to the “why?” and your wounds are deep and raw.
You andÂ your best friend went into business together and the business began to thrive. After a few years it seemed that even though things seemed to be going better than ever, the cash flow told a different story. You discovered he had been stealing from the company almost from the beginning to pay for a gambling habit. You had invested your life’s savings and were left with the company’s debt when he walked away. You are immersed in legal battles that seem endless and you are left feeling empty, angry and deceived.
You met this wonderful woman. She seemed to be everything you were looking for in a mate and you were absolutely crazy about her. But just when you thought it was time to take the relationship to the next level she announced that she had a problem with you and the relationship was over. No explanation. No discussion. No “I’m sorry.” She was gone and you were left feeling hurt and bewildered.
These are hypothetical situations but are not uncommon. They represent events that leaveÂ us feeling betrayed and feeling all those emotions that accompany betrayal – feeling angry, sad, misled, unloved, humiliated, confused, violated, cheated,Â etc. After a while you get on with your life but the pain is always just under the surface. It’s hard for you to trust anyone else and you question your own judgment about relationships – business or romantic.
So what can you do about it?
I know you’re thinking, “I can’t EVER forgive him/her. What he/she did is unforgivable and I won’t sanction that behavior with forgiveness.”
You are right. The behavior was despicable and YOU are the one carrying the pain. The forgiveness is for you, not for them.Forgiveness will return you to a state of peace and well-being. They still have to deal with what they have done. You will be free of it.
According to Dr. Fred Luskin in his book Forgive for Good: A PROVEN Prescription for Health and Happiness, “If you learn to forgive you will find your life to have possibilities you could only dream of. You will gain a sense of control over your feelings and discover that you have more energy available to makeÂ good decisions. You will find that your decisions are based less on hurt feelings and more on what is best for you and those you love.”
Forgiveness is a choice. Period. It is a choice you make that enables you to have peace in your life. ForgivenessÂ isÂ “the feeling of peace that emerges as you take your hurt less personally, take responsibility for how you feel, and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell.”
To prepare to forgive,Â Luskin says there are three preparatory steps:
- Know what your feeling are about what happened. Identify and name them
- Be clear about the action that wronged you
- Share your experience with at least one or two trusted people. ThisÂ helps you cope and clarifies what happened to you.
You have made the decision to let it go. The next step is to heal your feelings about what happened and that begins with a generalized looking for the good and beautiful in life. Refocus your thoughts from your story of hurt to what is positive in your life. Practice being grateful and appreciative. This will gradually lead you replace those feelings of hurt and betrayal with feelings of well being.
Luskin gives you several techniques that help you heal from the painful memories of what happened to you. But it starts with the decision to let go of it so you can heal and return to peace. It is furthered by taking responsibility for your own thoughts and changing them from the anger and hate of un-forgiveness to focus on the positive and the beautiful that surrounds you.
The choice is yours. You can continue to let the wound fester until you are consumed by it or you can make a decision to forgive and allow yourself to find peace. Only you can choose to do this for yourself. Aren’t you worth it?