Poet Alexander Pope wrote, “To err is human, to forgive divine.”
Few things feel more heavenly than when someone really understands how they’ve hurt you. It’s easy to forgive them when they apologize, make amends, and genuinely act differently because they’ve acknowledged the error of their ways.
The hard part is figuring out how to forgive when someone you love deeply lets you down and refuses to apologize.
Here are some simple steps you can try to learn how to forgive:
Take time each day to close your eyes and connect with your breath.
When you do, see if you can find compassion for your broken heart. Make peace with your rage, panic, obsession, numbness, sadness, and fear.
If you can’t find compassion, don’t be afraid to question yourself. Ask your heart why it won’t open.
See if you can simply remain calm and curious. Then close your eyes, and see where you feel your difficult emotions in your body.
Notice how those difficult emotions show up in your life. You can even silently ask yourself if there’s anything you need to know. Listen to whatever answer or insight comes to you. It may come through a thought, intuition, sensation, or even a daydream.
Take some time to journal about your experience.
Do this every day for 28 days, and take note of how different you feel inside even if the differences are subtle.
When you don’t rush forgiveness, you gain insight into your experience.You learn how those shattered pieces of your heart may actually help you.
You may discover how your hurt, anger, and resentment may actually help you to take the space you need from the person who hurt you so that you can begin to heal. You may also see how your obsession and panic protect some core parts of yourself.And you’ll discover that your numb, and checked-out mood gives you the time you need to rest, restore, and renew.
Understanding your own feelings may help you find the courage to learn why you chose to let this person remain in your life. You may also become aware of any repetitive relational patterns you’ve had with past partners.
You may also discover that you ignored some little red flags early on, and you might start to understand why you turned a blind eye.
Being aware will prevent you from making the same mistake again.
If you become overly focused on the belief that you need to forgive and move on, then look at all the potential insight and wisdom you could miss out on. After all, to forgive or not to forgive can sometimes feel like an impossible dilemma.
On one hand, people still love and miss the person who did them wrong, but the severity of what happened may feel too much to reconcile.
Sometimes it can be helpful for you to take a few steps back. “Un-forgive” the person who hurt you or to not feel any pressure to forgive at all.
This allows you to focus on your own healing and stay true to the parts of you that hold their hurt, anger, betrayal. Then you get to really process the pain that scarred your soul.
Once you make time and space for your hurt, you will come to understand that it’s normal to cycle through the memories of what happened.
When you proactively heal their wounds, grieve their losses, and learn life lessons, their lives begin to transform.
Only then can they let go of the past and move forward.
And when this happens, many people find the courage to make the biggest, boldest, and bravest choice of all: They choose to forgive themselves.
Previously published on YourTango.
Maura Matarese, M.A., LMHC, R.Y.T. is a psychotherapist, author, and yoga teacher practicing in Sudbury, M.A. If you’re struggling with whether or not you can forgive your ex, check out her new online course: “Finding Hope After Heartbreak: Learn The Secret How To Start Feeling Better Now,” which will help you learn more about what it means to forgive and let go of the past so you can move forward.
This article was originally published at Maura Matarese. Reprinted with permission from the author.