Ah, the new year. A wonderful time to focus on new goals and reset priorities to reach them. Some people set similar goals year after year, only to find that they aren’t every really reaching them. If this sounds like you, forgiveness may be the key to unlocking your potential. That’s because, without forgiveness, we are stuck in cycles and patterns of choices that continue ending in the same place. Forgiveness helps us move forward, forgoing the negative emotions tied to that memory. And ultimately helping us grow, evolve, and reach our potential.
Why It’s Crucial to Learn Forgiveness
Essentially, forgiveness allows us to break the emotional and mental pain cycles. It allows the want for revenge and feelings of spite to begin to fade. It is only when these intense emotions subside that we can truly begin to move on and grow away from that negativity.
Forgiveness, in a nutshell, puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own life. It allows you to focus on what is truly important, rather than spending time and energy on resentment that won’t actually make you happy. When you forgive someone, you also release their grip on your emotional and mental health, keeping it stabilized and solely dependent on your own being. It removes emotional baggage and replaces it with internal peace.
Steps to Forgive Others
While there is no “one way” to practice forgiveness, here are some steps to consider if you want to forgive someone who has hurt you.
- Focus on the present and future rather than dwelling on the past
- Reconnect to yourself and explore the “why” behind the hurt
- Use coping strategies to relieve immediate anger
- Stay accountable and show responsibility for your own actions
- Show kindness over ego
- Move past judgment
- Lead with love
- Practice the art of giving (not just things but also your time, your love, etc.)
Steps to Forgive Yourself
It may actually turn out that the person you need to forgive is yourself. Shame and guilt are both emotions we experience when we “mess up”. Guilt, while unpleasant to feel, actually serves a purpose. Guilt is an emotional learning tool. When we explore that emotion, we can learn about the wrong done, the “why” behind the mistake, and ways to do better in the future. Shame, on the other hand, doesn’t teach us anything, and actually blocks routes of healing.
Like forgiving others, there isn’t one hard rule to forgive yourself. Try things like:
- Admitting when you do mess up but not to the point of dwelling
- Apologize to those you may have hurt
- Write yourself an apology
- Explore learning from the mistake and figure out how to prevent the same mistake in the future
- Take care of yourself (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual)
- Be patient
Forgiveness as an Avenue to Happiness
Yes, when you forgive someone, the act feels very outward. But actually, when you forgive, it affects yourself just as much as the other person. Forgiveness gives you the space to accept any pain or hurt and begin to move past them. The energy you once gave to negativity can be redirected to creating a better present and self.
Forgiveness and Therapy with CPA
We know you’re doing the best you can to try to navigate the new social norms of the world. Admitting you need a bit of help is the strongest thing you can do as it means you can act as a better provider and support system for those you care about and want to protect. As scary as it seems, being vulnerable with your emotions is a way to make your life and the lives of others better.
Life is going to continually throw us obstacles. What matters most is not what comes our way, but how we cope with it. We know you need a toolbox full of skills in order to cope with the challenges that life -especially when friendships are involved. At CPA, we will always encourage patients to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different methods of therapy.
Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients. So check our services pages to learn more about how we can help you have the life you deserve to live.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Dave Lori – LPC
Dave has had the honor and privilege of working in the mental health field for the past 20 years. His experience ranges from family-systems work to individualized focus. His clinical orientation ranges from client-centered, solution-focused, humanistic and Existential approaches. Dave believes in providing a strength-based, supportive, authentic and non-judgmental approach to the therapeutic process. We all face various challenges and have the ability to reach our personal goals given the independent choices we make each day.