Love, Always

How to forgive anyone for anything. (Even yourself.)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Many years ago… there was someone in my life that I felt so incredibly, outrageously angry at.

“Angry” is probably an understatement. While I never dared to say it out loud to her face… the truth is? I hated her.

I never thought I’d be able to forgive her. Never ever. Absolutely not.

Not after what she did to me. Not after how I felt.

Today?

I don’t hate this person. In fact, we’ve shared close moments.

I never dreamed we’d would enjoy healthy, respectful exchanges, after everything that had happened.

Yet… we have.

This may seem “impossible” or “miraculous” to some. To feel hate, hurt, betrayal, bitterness and resentment towards someone — and still be able to forgive them?

Even love them?

But as human beings, we are miracles. We have the ability to change and transform — to learn, to grow, to heal, to become stronger and kinder than ever before — at any time. To me, that’s the definition of “miraculous.”

All of us are born with the ability to forgive, completely.

Every single one of us has that capacity. So often, though, we forget how to do it.

If there’s someone you need to forgive — a parent, an ex, a company that fired you, a friend that wronged you, anyone at all, including yourself — here are a few lessons to light the way.

1. Accept how you feel, without judgment.

It’s okay to feel whatever you feel. Anger… betrayal… confusion… even hate.

Own those feelings. Don’t pretend they don’t exist. The sooner you name and acknowledge them, the sooner you can release them.

In a journal, or in your own mind, try saying:

“I’m angry / hurt / sad / because you ___________ and I feel so _________________.”

“What you did feels unforgivable and ______________. I just want to _____________.”

“You promised me you’d never _________________ again, but you did! I trusted you, and now I feel totally ______________________________.”

If you’re mad at yourself, you can use these same prompts to express how you feel — about yourself. Get it all out, on paper. Self-expression is the first step of forgiveness.

2. Understand what “forgiveness” really means.

When you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean what that person did was OK. Or that you should “forget” it. Or that they’re allowed to do it again.

It means you’re giving a gift to yourself — the gift of releasing heavy, negative feelings. So that you can move on.

Try saying:

“What __________ did was unacceptable and I hope I never put another human being through the pain that I’m feeling right now. All the same, I forgive them completely. Because I deserve to be released from these heavy feelings that are weighing me down.”

Next, try saying those words out loud while thwacking a pillow with a hand-towel that’s knotted on one end. Imagine your angry, heavy feelings getting absorbed into the pillow, departing your body forever. Repeat the last line (“I deserve to be released….”) as many times as you need. Enjoy the stillness and calm that follows.

3. Repeat the ten magic words.

When it comes to forgiving someone, completely, there are ten magic words that work miracles almost every time.

Visualize yourself speaking to the person who hurt you, who harmed you, who disappointed you, or betrayed you.

See that person in your mind’s eye.

Then tell them:

“I forgive you for not knowing how to do better.”

Remember: forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself.

Nobody else can give it to you.

It’s for you, from you, to you.

And yes: you deserve it.

Is there someone you need to forgive? Maybe even… yourself? If you’re struggling to do it — or if you have been stuck for a long time — don’t hesitate to seek professional help. From me, or somebody else. Remember that forgiveness is freedom. You can get back to a light, free, unburdened place. Give yourself that gift. I know you can do it.