“When you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward”. Tyler Perry
After a breakup, you go through a myriad of emotions: you might feel cheated, empty, guilty, anxious, depressed, deep loss; you may have strong dependency needs of which you were unaware. You might feel rejected, incompetent or a fool.
While some of these emotions will be ok to work through in time, forgiving yourself and your ex may be more difficult. For some people this is impossible. Failing to forgive can lead to problems with bitterness, uncontrolled anger and depression. It takes over your life and taints everything. It’s impossible to move on and have a happy future when you are trapped in bitterness and resentment.
Divorce can truly be a rebirth and can lead to a wonderful fulfilling future but only when you have been able to forgive properly and move on.
As well as your mental health, lack of forgiveness can also affect your physical health. Dr Michael Barry made a startling discovery: the immune system and forgiveness are very much connected. As many as 65% of Americans suffering from cancer had issues with forgiveness. Their internalized anger and bitterness was destroying their bodies.
So what can you do about it? Here are some suggestions to help you forgive:
Give yourself time to grieve your loss. Even if you were the one who broke off the relationship, you will more than likely go through periods of sadness and anger for quite a while. This is completely normal, especially if the relationship was long-term or if you were very close to your ex. Don’t rush into another relationship just to make your bruised ego feel better, this never works. It could end up making you feel even worse.
Consciously let go of your role as the victim in the situation. 9 times out of 10 anger is covering up deep hurt and a sense of injustice. You might be constantly asking yourself: “Why did this happen to me? It’s just not fair”. Being the victim allows your ex and the situation to control you. Once you realize you are totally in control of your choices and decisions, you can move closer toward truly forgiving your ex and getting on with your life.
Recognize the differences among the situation, your actions and yourself. The situation surrounding the divorce doesn’t define you, so you should leave it in the past. You can use your actions and this time alone to better yourself. Grow yourself as a person. Take time to reflect objectively on what happened and how you can use the breakup to become a stronger person. Learn from your mistakes. A divorce or break up is very rarely the fault of just one person. None of us are perfect.
Ask for forgiveness. If you have guilt that is holding you back and you need forgiveness yourself you can apologize to your ex. Even if they don’t accept your apology, you have the peace of mind of knowing that you tried. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your ex, write a letter, send a text message or type a sincere email. It will set you free.
Speak the words of forgiveness. If it feels too difficult you don’t need to contact your ex, but you should still say that you forgive him/her out loud. Look in the mirror and say to yourself “I forgive you (ex’s name) and I forgive myself for any part that I played”. Forgiveness is primarily for you – many people believe that forgiving their ex is letting them off the hook, condoning their bad behaviour or their infidelity but this simply isn’t true. It’s releasing you from the past. Let it go.
Mark Twain said “anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than on anything it is poured”. Your bitterness and anger isn’t affecting your ex’s life it’s just ruining yours.
Forgiveness allows you to let go of anger, resentment and bitterness and it opens you up to happiness and new experiences including a new relationship.
Realise that those old feelings of hurt and anger may creep up from time to time; however, it is how you deal with these feelings that determine if you have forgiven. If you have truly forgiven yourself and your ex, you will be able to just push those feelings aside without having to act on them.
Turn to a divorce coach for help. A good coach can help you to work through your anger and hurt if it feels too difficult to do on your own. I’d love to help you so that you can forgive and move on with your life.