By Dr. Paula Fellingham
There is nothing quite as exhilarating and exquisite as knowing that you have no ill will toward any person. Conversely, carrying anger, resentment, or hostility toward another acts like a poison in your system. And it has a rippling effect on everything you do – from your work productivity to your relationships.
So how do you begin the process of forgiveness – true, deep, lasting, forgiveness?
The first step is deciding whether you want to make up and re-establish contact. If you do, you must stop waiting to hear “I’m sorry” and get ready to say it. Sincerely. Ask yourself, “Is this something I really want?”
If so, begin the move from pain to emotional freedom by shifting the way you look at things. Acknowledge that this was something you didn’t want to happen. But it did, and by holding onto bitter feelings you’re allowing the problem to drag on and to negatively affect your life (and probably the lives of others).
Recognizing the power of CHOICE here is critical, absolutely critical. You must decide, deep within, that no matter how your gesture of forgiveness is treated, you will not be adversely affected. For instance, if your good efforts are met with disdain – if your best intentions are misunderstood – you’ll not allow that person’s reaction to dictate your response. You will wholeheartedly forgive, regardless of any unkind response to your noble gesture. This attitude is a choice.
After deciding to forgive – and moving forward toward emotional freedom – the second step is to make the first move. Send a simple email or pick up the phone and call. Don’t agonize over HOW to say it, just explain you’re sorry there was a misunderstanding, you value their friendship, and you are calling (writing) to apologize. Actually say the words, “I’m sorry.”
EVEN IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE YOU DID ANTYHING WRONG YOU CAN SAY, “I’m sorry.” Why? Because you are sorry that you were involved in a misunderstanding that caused pain.
Know this: It does not matter who is right or wrong. What matters is that you get past the issue and move forward. It is not necessary to discuss the “hot button” issue at the time of this first communication. Nine times out of ten it’s better NOT to discuss it because old wounds may open. Exercise self-discipline and resist the urge.
Third, lower your expectations. Don’t’ anticipate immediate, positive reconciliation because you may be disappointed. The other person possibly isn’t ready to make amends. Perhaps she isn’t willing to accept your apology or to forgive you. Don’t allow that to adversely affect you on any level.
Although things may never be completely the same, be confident in the knowledge that your choice to forgive is the right thing to do. Indeed, when you begin the New Year with a peaceful conscience – with forgiveness and good feelings toward everyone in your life’s circle – you’ve set a strong precedence for a GREAT NEW YEAR!