Stepping Stones to Forgiving the Unforgivable
We know that forgiveness can be the key to moving forward and being happier, but it’s not always easy to achieve. Emotions of hurt, betrayal, anger, and resentment can be overpowering and debilitating.
The fact that every negative emotion is hurting ourselves, rather than the person we’re unable to forgive, is not enough to overcome them.
Forgiving someone can feel like letting them off the hook, or condoning their behavior. So, what’s the answer? And what makes it easier for some people to forgive than others?
These Stepping Stones to Forgiveness are in two parts:
1. Finding the original references
2. The Due Justice Technique
Finding the Original References
Since we cannot experience anything for which we don’t already have a subconscious reference, finding those original references is key to making forgiveness easier.
Think about the person you wish you could forgive, right now. What is the worst thing about what they did?
For example, Debbie’s husband divorced her, and she hasn’t been able to forgive him. The worst thing, for her, is that he didn’t give her a chance to work it out. He refused to go for counselling, and by the time she knew there was anything wrong, he’d already made up his mind.
How does that feel? What emotions and feelings are there?
For Debbie, it was feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, along with a feeling of being trapped.
Where in your childhood did you feel those same feelings? It may not be the same topic, but will be the same feelings.
For Debbie, it was being unfairly punished for things her brother did, and not being given the opportunity to defend herself. Her parents automatically believed her brother, and Debbie was told that if she continued to argue, the punishment would be increased.
The Due Justice Technique
The purpose of this technique is to give the child in you, the opportunity to finally feel that justice has been done.
The reason this technique is so powerful is the fact that the subconscious cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination, and will believe this activity is real.
You’re going to write a letter you’ll never send. But, this is not the “therapeutic letter writing” activity you may have heard of before. This has several important differences!
Set aside a couple of hours, before you’ll be able to sleep. In other words, before bedtime or on a day off.
Make sure you won’t be disturbed. Switch off your phone, and choose a space where you’ll have privacy and won’t be interrupted.
Arm yourself with a pen and notepad, and start to write to the culprits from your childhood. You will write to the current guilty party/ies as well, later, but you need to start with your childhood.
Although Debbie’s anger and resentment toward her husband were much stronger than the memories of being unfairly punished as a child, the original reference from her childhood experiences is what was providing the fuel for the current situation.
It will be much easier to forgive the more recent events, once you’ve addressed the childhood references.
For this technique to work, you need to make sure that you hold nothing back. No-one’s ever going to see this letter (although, your subconscious doesn’t know that — which is why this activity is so effective), so, cuss, use ALL CAPS, and lots of exclamation points!!!!!!! Be as vicious and unreasonable as possible.
Think of this as cleaning out an infected wound. Placing the dressing of forgiveness on top of an infection does nothing to heal the wound. By getting absolutely everything that’s inside you, out and onto the page, you are cleaning that wound — and when you then apply the dressing of forgiveness, it will be far more effective.
Write for as long as it takes to get everything out of you and onto the page. It may take an hour, it may take two hours, or it may only take 30 minutes. Just allow yourself to get it all out. When you’ve run out of things to say, that’s when you can stop.
Remember: Since your subconscious can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination, as far as it’s concerned, that person has finally been “told off” and justice has been done!
Read the letter through, and imagine the recipient is reading it. Then, destroy the letter. You can tear it up and throw it away, or burn it ceremoniously — whatever feels good to you.
Next, go to sleep. You will probably feel drained, and your brain will need the time to process what you’ve just experienced.
Rinse and Repeat
Do this for each person involved in those childhood experiences. And only once you’ve done those, then repeat this technique, addressing the person you’ve been struggling to forgive, more recently.
After Debbie had written the Due Justice letters to her parents and her brother, she then wrote one to her husband. By that time, there was already a lot less emotion toward her husband than there had been.
By the time you’ve written that last letter, you will probably already find it easier to forgive the person. But, if not, you may want to change those childhood memories, to create references that are the opposite, positive, and empowering for you.
- If you find you can’t think of anything to say, just start with anything. Start with “Dear Dad, how are you. I am fine. I had mac-and-cheese for supper. It was raining today….” And so on, and as you keep going — writing whatever pops into your mind — you will eventually find the emotions start to flow.
- If you find yourself reluctant to be too harsh, unreasonable, or vicious, remind yourself that no-one’s going to read this except you. And remember that you are cleaning out an infected wound. You can’t clean a wound if you just wipe, gingerly, around the edges!
- If you find you can’t access strong emotions, imagine “they” treated another child the way they treated you. In other words, if you have children, imagine the recipient of this letter treated your child that way. If you don’t have children, imagine they treated your niece or nephew, or children you know, that way.
Or, imagine the events from someone else’s perspective. Keep changing the point of view until you hit the emotions. They’re there — even if you can’t feel them right now.
The fact that you haven’t been able to forgive someone means those emotions are definitely in there somewhere. Do whatever it takes to get them out and onto the page, so that you can free yourself from them once-and-for-all.
Finally, take it easy on yourself. Be kind and gentle with yourself. That is a key part of the healing process.