Once you have practiced step 1 – Acceptance, step 2 – Comprehension is in order.
Do not get me wrong! When I talk about comprehension, I am not asking you to understand the “Why?” the “How could they?” or the “Why me?”. This kind of understanding is unimportant or, for many, unattainable at this stage.
What you need to understand at this stage on the road to forgiveness is that whatever happened to you was not personal. I know you are going to protest and say, “Of course it was personal! It happened to me!”
I want you to think about if for a minute. Go back in time and think of someone who hurt you years ago or of a painful event in the past. How do you feel? Are you still angry at the person or at the situation that caused the suffering? Is this memory a gut-wrenching experience that causes you great pain? Do you still feel the bitterness, which is not compatible with the person you want to be and the kind of life you dream of?
Maybe the answer to all or some of the questions is NO. Maybe that person did what they did for their own reasons without the intention to hurt you. Maybe this is just how they are and would have done the same to anyone who would happen to be there. Maybe they were not aware of the fact that what they did made you suffer. Maybe the incident was so unimportant to them that they do not even remember it. Maybe they do not even remember who you are.
No matter what the answers to the questions above are, ask yourself one last question.
Once you accept that what happened could have happened to anyone, you free yourself from the guilt. The guilt that you are somehow responsible, that you let it happen. You come to realize that it had nothing to do with you personally. It just happened and it could have happened to anybody else (and maybe it has…).
Asking yourself these questions again and again and freeing yourself from the guilt, you have shifted your attention from an emotional reaction which cannot be controlled to an intellectual response whose logic you cannot deny. Your intellectual, logical part can be trained to practice this until you can achieve detachment from the painful emotions that are evoked from the memory.
Just remember. Forgiveness is not an easy task. It takes time and practice. What you need to keep in mind is that it is not impossible. Seen like this, as a mental process (and not as an instant magic want as we are asked to see it), it is possible. You can and you will get there. You will do it for you. As an act of kindness towards yourself.
To be continued…