One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do was forgive someone who did not show remorse. They saw nothing wrong with their actions that wounded me so deeply. I carried that wound with me for years until I realized that it started to taint the other areas of my life. I did not trust other people, I overreacted to minor offenses by others, and I was no longer the positive happy person I was before. I did not like who I had become. That seed of hurt grew into a untamed mass of hate, bitterness, resentment, disenchantment, and pain.
Even if I would try to add positive beautiful things to my life, they would get choked by the overgrown weeds in my mind and heart. The only way to break through was to do some serious "gardening."
Forgiveness is the process of identifying the hurt, digging deep, and removing it. To quote Elsa, "let it go." It does not mean that you are suddenly ok with what happened, but that you are done allowing it to affect you deeply anymore. It's a process because sometimes we think we have cut out the whole weed and we come back later to see that we missed a few roots that have blossomed and we have to cut them out again. Pain can pop back up without warning sometimes, but if you have managed it once, you have the skills/tools you need to do it again.
How to Get Started:
Acknowledge you need to forgive
Identify the hurt and where it came from (You do not have to relive the experience to do this)
Consider the various ways this hurt has negatively affected your life
Practice strategies to release the hurt, leaving it in the past (find what works for you): -Journaling -Prayer and Scripture -Meditation or Mindfulness -Creativity through song, poetry, dance, art, etc. -Positive Affirmations or Reminders -Reframing painful thoughts as they arise - "This is in the past." "I am letting go." -Counseling to break through the really difficult feelings or to learn other strategies
Show compassion to yourself for experiencing this hurt for so long
Care for your wounds in positive ways
Protect yourself by learning areas you can improve your life to guard against this in the future
Rinse and repeat!
Some of these steps will be easier than others. They may be quick or take time. Some you can easily do alone and others you may benefit from help. Note that none of these steps say that you are to blame for what happened, that you are suddenly not hurt by what happened, or that you release the offender from their responsibility for the hurt. It only releases you from the pain.
Forgiveness is for the giver, not the receiver.