"Forgive and forget." This adage has been around for ages. And there are multiple layers attached to the deep meaning that it conveys. Pain, hurt, anger, sadness, and holding a grudge are all valid emotions and you must give yourself the time it takes to heal from them. But heal, don't hold on. It is important for your physical, emotional, and mental well-being to steady your emotions, pick yourself up and move on. And the only way to move on is to forget about it and replace that tainted memory with something pleasant.
Forgiveness and mental health are intertwined in more ways than you realise. Holding on to negative emotions raises your stress levels and impacts your body and mind in a very cellular and deep way. And it's not just about how to forgive someone else. Sometimes you may be disappointed with your own actions and aren't able to figure out how to forgive yourself.
6 Steps To Truly Being Able To Forgive & Forget
Step 1: Acknowledge Your Feelings
"Whatever's happened has happened, it's time to get over it." This is how many of us try to convince ourselves to get back to normalcy. Your friends and family, too, perhaps offer you the same advice. But, you do yourself more harm than good when you force yourself to leave the painful memories behind in an instant rather than acknowledging your feelings and working on gradually releasing your emotions.
When it comes to mastering the art of how to forgive and forget, start with sitting down with your pain and being honest with yourself about why you feel so hurt. Yes, it's a slow process but it's a kindness you need to afford to yourself. Unprocessed feelings will gather steam and blow out of proportion, and in the long run, manifest themselves through patterned behaviour and unresolved trauma that will affect your other relationships as well.
Step 2: Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Our feelings are usually solely based on our point of view of the situation. Seldom do we ever try to understand the situation from the perspective of the other person. Ask yourself questions like, "Why did he/she say that?" and "What made him/her do that?", and you may find an answer that gives you peace and helps you forgive the person.
Other times the answers may not be so black or white, and their actions may be coming from a negative space and be unforgivable. In this case, it is important to learn how to let go of bitterness by pondering over what is the lesson or growth opportunity for you in this unfortunate turn of events. Maybe your takeaway needs to be how 'not' to behave in a situation if you are ever in their shoes.
Step 3: Give Yourself Time
You may be able to forgive, but it's harder to forget. And until you still have tainted memories, it just all comes back to you—the hurt, the anger, the sadness. Luckily, time is a great healer. So give yourself time to forget what happened. This may mean distancing yourself from a person or a situation for a while so that the emotional wounds have a chance to close up and heal. What's interesting is that time is also a great leveller. You may find it easier to be empathetic and practice forgiveness in retrospect than you do in the present moment. So take as long as you need.
Step 4: Vocalise Forgiveness
Actually saying the words 'I forgive you', regardless of whether the other person is physically present to receive them or not is very freeing. You're putting out into the universe that you don't want to hold on to the grudge and the pain that comes with unresolved anger any longer. Vocalising forgiveness is like a verbal affirmation for your brain and your heart. It makes it easier for you to start letting go of things even if you weren't ready to until that point.
Step 5: Seek The Support Of Others
In the beginning, you may want to be alone to come to terms with the range of emotions that you're going through. You need time with yourself to make sense of the myriad of thoughts running through your mind and heart. But, humans being the social beings that we are, we enjoy the company of our loved ones and are born for interdependency. Connecting with people who have your back, people who are open to giving you a patient ear and unburdening your soul to them, and even people who are willing to call you out on your negativity, if any, in the situation, is very important.
Tell them what's bothering you and how you want to forgive—everything that helps you purge your emotions from deep within. Being able to vent out your feelings shows that you are at one with your emotions. It's a sign that you are acknowledging your feelings, which is necessary when you are on your way to discovering how to forgive yourself or others. Your support group can help put you on the fast track to healing.
Step 6: Alleviate Stress With Aromatherapy
The science-backed art of aromatherapy aids in the natural healing of your body, mind, and soul through the use of plant extracts. Essential oils derived from certain plants alleviate sadness, stress, anxiety, and sleep problems, which are often the side effects of working your way through negative emotions. Aromatherapy has proven to help people de-stress, provide them calmness and clarity of mind, and ignite their olfactory senses to transport them to a space of happy memories.
The Blue Pond's Pure Organic Frankincense Oil is crafted to take the stressors in your body head-on, while the Pure Organic Jasmine Oil regulates blood pressure and keeps your respiratory system regulated. You can even try out The Blue Pond’s Pure & Organic Carrot Seed Oil to de-stress your mind and body, control weakness, and also reduce fatigue. Experiment with essential oils, individually or in combination, and see what works for you the best.
Forgiving and forgetting are hard and it can be quite a journey before you truly learn how to let go of grudges and bitterness. But it’s the only way to encourage personal growth and bring true peace to your mind, body and soul. Do it for yourself, not for anyone else. It will set you free.