Christmas is often the time of year when unhealthy feelings towards others are exposed and maybe it’s the pressure of the season that makes these ‘triggers’ more volatile.
Lately I have been developing clear principles to follow when ‘I am offended.’ How to forgive and keeping myself in the mindset of ‘forgiveness’ often eludes me.
For me, it has to be simple, as my mind grasps concepts best when they are easy to remember. First, I needed to get a grip on my ‘trigger’ moments when I find myself suddenly engulfed in waves of emotions that carry me to places where I don’t want to go.
Fundamentally, forgiving is a choice we make to step forward and away from the feelings that hold us hostage to the unhealthy energies of anger, bitterness, resentment and offense.
One key principle that has helped me immensely this past week has been allowing myself to feel the emotions and acknowledge each one as they roll around in my life.
It doesn’t do us any good to stifle what we are going through. Sometimes we try to downplay it by saying it wasn’t that bad. Counselors often advise recognizing and acknowledging these emotions is an important part of the healing and forgiveness process. If we don’t fully acknowledge our resentment and anger, they will continue to resurface.
We need to acknowledge the pain.
Last week, I did just that as some personal issues triggered me more than I care to admit.
I am so tired of being dragged down by the same thing over and over again. This time I didn’t stuff the feelings down or deny that they existed as I have in the past. I allowed myself to fully feel each one and acknowledge it.
Yes, I was angry.
Yes, I was frustrated.
Yes, I resented what was happening.
These feelings were real and they were legitimate.
This led me to a four-step process in forgiving others:
First, choose to take responsibility for the way you feel despite what has been said or done to you. Ultimately, it is you who is reacting. It is you who needs to change, not them.
Secondly, recognize and acknowledge each feeling, and one by one pull them down from your heart and place it in your hand as a symbolic expression of your desire to get these emotions under your control.
Thirdly, open your hands and physically let each one go as you give them over to God. As you do this, verbally say ‘I forgive’ this person and then ask the Holy Spirit to help you move forward in your life without these emotions controlling you any longer.
Finally, raise your hands and GIVE back or send love to the one who hurt or offended you.
Forgiving is choosing to GIVE back love to the offender in the place of your anger and resentment. Forgiving does not mean complying with requests or actions that are unhealthy for you as we still need healthy boundaries. It is about removing the anger and resentments that you have bottled up inside.
These are a few affirmations that help me stay out of unforgiveness;
I AM FORGIVING and giving back love to my offenders.
I AM peaceful.
I AM content.