Lately in my life, I feel like I keep being offered the opportunity by the universe to decide how I want to show up in my relationships when someone makes a choice that hurts me. It’s the kind of opportunity I don’t want and didn’t choose, but I’m having anyway.
I had two separate issues arise recently with a couple of people that I love where I felt hurt by actions or choices they made. I’ve been feeling a lot of feelings about it based on all the thoughts I’m having about it.
I’m still processing through it and I’m not at peace with it. I’m not where I want to be with it. But I’ve been thinking about you all along the way as well because what I’m working on is feeling forgiveness for these people.
Moving toward forgiveness
This comes up a lot for my clients with themselves. In the weight loss process, we tend to beat ourselves up a lot. I think that comes from our inability to forgive ourselves for missteps, mistakes, or even intentional wrongdoing.
Forgiveness for ourselves in these cases is like a lifeline of compassion. It allows us to move forward with focus in the direction of our goals, unburdened from our past actions.
However, instead of thinking of it in these terms, a lot of the time we see it as going too easy on ourselves. We think that if we forgive, we are being too permissive and we will never learn.
I think it’s worth looking into that to see if it’s true.
I want to walk you through the process I go through and am in currently because I think it’s valuable to work this out for myself, to think about it critically and to notice what’s going on, and eventually get to the place I want to get with it.
Sort through your feelings and thoughts
After encountering these two situations, I’m feeling hurt, betrayed, angry, frustrated, really sad, and hopeless. I’m feeling a whole bunch of emotions based on what I’m making the actions of others mean.
I have some thoughts like, “They don’t care about me. They have no respect for me. They keep doing the same thing over and over. I’ve expressed very clearly how I feel and what my expectations are. They don’t listen. They should know better. This person is telling me what I want to hear, not what’s true. They just don’t care.”
If these sentences are my brain’s interpretation of the actions these people have taken and the words they’ve said, it makes perfect sense that I’m feeling what I’m feeling.
There are usually a lot of these thought and feeling pairs swirling around when we are feeling negative emotions. The thoughts in my head paired with the resulting feelings in my body.
I usually like to write them all down and look at them one by one. You don’t have to look at every single one of them to process them. I might look at the feeling first and ask myself what I’m feeling. That shows me what I’m thinking that is creating that feeling.
Sometimes I start by looking at the thought I’m having and I tune into what feeling that thought is creating. Sometimes I do both.
The first step in moving toward forgiveness is getting all the thoughts out and taking a look at them one by one. What feeling does this thought create? What thought is creating this feeling?
Just the facts
Once I clearly see the thoughts and feelings that are swirling around, I go back to the story and I make sure I get the facts straight. I go through what happened down to its simplest form. No opinions, no emotions, just the basics.
The more simple, the more basic, the less emotional, the less likely it is to have an opinion wove in there.
The purpose of this is to separate the story my brain is telling from what is happening, and what is inarguably true.
It’s differentiating what I don’t have control over from what I do. I don’t control the things other people do or say, and other things that happen outside of me. I do have control over what I make those things mean.
This process of separating facts from the story, looking at the sentences my brain is currently choosing to use to tell the story, noticing the feelings those sentences are creating, and questioning them is how I start to have some authority over it.
It’s through this looking closer process that I’m able to start making some more deliberate decisions about what I WANT to think and feel about the situation.
But I have to know what I am currently thinking and feeling and understand where that’s coming from before I can do that.
Your emotions are okay!
When things happen around us and to us, our brains tell these big elaborate stories about it all. But the facts are pretty simple. I’m making their actions and their words mean a whole bunch of things about me. I’m making it personal with my thinking.
Here is something really important that I want you to understand: that’s okay.
It’s okay to make it mean something about me. It’s okay to make it personal. It’s okay to feel hopeless and frustrated and hurt. These are natural human emotions. They are not problems to be solved.
These feelings are experienced in my body and I see them as messages. They are messages alerting me to something I might want to take a closer look at, not things I have to change as soon as possible.
Processing through a situation and all the thoughts and feelings involved is a way to move through the emotion authentically and arrive at a different place. But the goal is not to rush to feeling better.
I have allowed myself time here — meaning weeks, not minutes or hours — as I’m working through just being mad and hurt, fully owning that it is my interpretation that is creating those emotions.
They are real and raw because my interpretation seems true to me right now. I allow space to be where I am, in whatever emotion I am in, without escaping or punishing myself for it, but also without fueling the fire.
You may feel a bit stuck at times when you’re going through this process. That’s okay, too. It takes time to acknowledge and understand how you’re thinking and feeling. It takes some effort to accept reality at times.
Having the patience to let the process take however long it takes is so powerful.
How to forgive someone else
So where does forgiveness come into this process? Forgiveness is something we think we give to someone else, but it is a gift we give ourselves.
Someone else doesn’t feel your forgiveness. They don’t feel the feeling you have. They don’t even feel your wrath or anger like we sometimes want them to.
Have you encountered someone determined to keep hating someone from their past? They think they have to hold on to this wrath and anger to teach this person a lesson or emphasize their disapproval of the person’s choices. They carry the anger around and justify it by saying that person doesn’t deserve forgiveness.
Meanwhile, the other person is just walking around in the world doing their thing, feeling whatever they’re feeling, not experiencing the rage from across the world, country, state, or to be honest, even across the room. Feelings don’t travel from your body to someone else’s.
The forgiveness I want to feel is a feeling for me to experience.
This doesn’t make it easy, of course. My brain is not quite willing to let go yet. I feel some resistance to the idea of forgiveness as a result of my brain wanting to hang on. When I notice resistance, I get curious. What is standing in the way of me feeling forgiveness?
In this case, my resistance, my desire to stay angry about it is almost like a wall that I’ve put up to try to protect myself from this happening again.
In my experience, it takes a bit of time for me to soften my position, to let the anger step aside, and to open up to feeling the hurt. It feels so vulnerable and a little bit dangerous, maybe, to my brain to feel hurt. I recognize that.
Being willing to feel hurt takes courage, and sometimes it takes time for me to gather it.
How to forgive yourself
Think about you for a minute. Are you holding on to anger and frustration toward yourself for where you are? Are you feeling hurt and hopeless about the way you are showing up or not showing up?
Notice the feelings you have when you think about how you take care of yourself. What messages are they sending? If you look closer, what might you find?
If forgiveness is a gift for you to experience, what is standing in the way of you feeling that about your actions? How would things change if you were able to feel forgiveness for yourself?
Forgiveness is a gift I will give myself. It starts with compassion and it leads to love. When I am willing to get humble and vulnerable and look at the situation from the other person’s point of view, I can usually find some compassion for them.
From that compassion, I can step into forgiveness and that leads me back to feeling love, which is definitely what I would like to feel for these particular people in my life. I’m not there yet, but I am working to get there.
There’s no rush. There is plenty of time. The same is true for you.
If you’re holding on to resentment or anger for actions you have taken, if you’re feeling frustration or disgust for yourself because of where you are, if you’re feeling disappointed about your body, your weight loss journey, or your choices, that’s okay.
Take some time to understand why you feel this way and consider how forgiveness might serve you. This is how we break the cycle of punishment eating that I so often see.
How can you move through feelings of hurt, anger, shame, or guilt and give yourself the gift of forgiveness?
This kind of thought work is invaluable on your journey to losing weight for life. If you’re ready to get started, watch my free video on how to lose the first five pounds — and keep going.