"Yes, our marriage had its shortcomings but I never dreamed that my husband would leave for work one day and never come back. I got a text around midnight, saying he's leaving me. It turns out he was having an affair with a neighbor that lived a block away. I was pregnant with our third child and he left us all high and dry. I can never forgive him."
After a divorce, especially a nasty one, getting past the heartache of it all can be difficult and the idea of forgiveness can seem impossible.
The Top 5 Reasons Why Most People Say They Won't Forgive Their Ex:
- "My ex cheated on me!" Not forgiving keeps my guard up. I never want to be that vulnerable or hurt again!
- "I just went through the most devastating divorce in the history of mankind!" My heart feels frozen. I doubt it'll ever melt.
- "My ex is turning our kids against me!" I can't just "let it go and move on!"
- "My ex left me in financial ruin." I feel royally screwed. It's way too soon to forgive.
- "He won't pay decent child support but I just found out he bought that witch a new car!" Forgive? After what I've been through, only a weak, pathetic loser with no backbone would forgive.
Forgive? No Way!
Hey, I get it. With everything that has happened, you probably have gathered a long list of grievances that have left you feeling angry, disappointed and betrayed.
The Big Problems Is...
When you hold onto your grudges and refuse to forgive, the only one you are really hurting is yourself.
As a marriage and family therapist, many of the clients who come to see me have remained single for years after a breakup, unhappy and bitterly convinced that there were "no good people" out there. But THAT all changed once they decided to forgive.
- Because you know it's healthier to count your blessings rather than your hurts.
- Because you choose to make peace of mind and happiness your daily goal.
- Because you are tired of the suffering and emotional pain that not forgiving causes you.
- Because you want to open (the closed down parts of you) to love again.
- Because you choose to live from empowerment not victimhood.
The purpose of forgiveness is to free you from the imprisonment of your own grudges and blame so that you can live more peacefully and love more generously in the present.
What happened has happened. What you choose to do from here on will determine the future.
Here are 5 STEPS to Forgiveness from my book "Chatting or Cheating" that will help you redirect your energy and free you to make this beautiful life of yours even better.
Step 1: CHOOSE TO FORGIVE.
Wanting to forgive is the first step! Every time you say 'yes' to focusing on what is good and loveable in your life, it strengthens and frees you. Keep making the conscious choice to focus on love and healing.
Step 2: LOOK BEYOND THE NOW.
You will be miserable for as long as you let yourself wallow in the pain of the past. Instead, use your time and energy to visualize yourself into a brighter future. See yourself as loving, free, peaceful and happy.
Might as well throw in visualizing yourself on a Caribbean cruise and having the time of your life. You have nothing to lose and peace of mind to gain.
Step 3: CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS.
Remember where resentment, anger and jealousy originate -- within you! As much as these feelings might well up suddenly, it is imperative that you do not allow these emotions to control or overwhelm you. Whenever you find yourself focusing on feeling wronged (or bad about yourself) your challenge is to come back to yourself and remember that you are 100 percent responsible for what you think, feel and focus on. So focus on something that makes you happy and feels good!
Step 4: GIVE UP THE PAST
Going over and over what should or shouldn't have happened in your relationship, what your ex did or didn't do and what you wished would have happened is a road to Nowhere. And I want you to go somewhere - somewhere good.
Remember that forgiving something that happened doesn't mean you approved of those actions! It's important to keep your integrity and self esteem concerning behaviors that were clearly wrong to you. However the gift is in getting emotionally beyond the pain in blaming others.
You will be free.
Step 5: ARISE WITH FORGIVENESS.
When you wake up, when the light hits your eyes, decide that you are going to forgive today, for the whole day. You might feel a surge of bitterness at times during this practice but if you remember the deal you made with yourself in the morning it will help you move through it more easily.
It is often said that forgiveness is the ultimate act of self love. Learning to FORGIVE what seems UNFORGIVABLE is where quantum shifts in our heart and our capacity to LOVE begin.
After all, you're forgiving for YOUR sake! And when you finally let go of feeling wronged, it's your happiness as the prize!
Do you have a forgiveness success story? Please share.
Sheri Meyers, Psy.D is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA, and author of Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love, and Affair-Proof Your Relationship. For a free chapter of Chatting or Cheating, please go to: chattingorcheating.com