Years ago, I worked at an organization with a good friend. Throughout the relationship, I had always been supportive of her family and her career. Since my company had identified her to move up in the organization, my boss included her in a meeting to discuss my yearly review. I didn’t see this as any threat and had no problem with the decision to include her. Frankly, no one knew my work better.
However, I hadn’t been in the meeting for even five minutes before I began to sense a shift in her behavior. When the supervisor made some false accusations toward me, my eyes immediately searched my friend. I expected her support— what I got was more accusations. The two became a tag team of attack while I was left confused, hurt and angry. All I kept thinking in my head was, “what the heck is happening here”.
Being attacked by my supervisor was disappointing and confusing, but being attacked by my friend was just devastating for me. I walked out dazed, hurt and angry. I couldn’t imagine why someone I thought I knew so well would act so out of character.
I’m sure each one of you has been in this same place. Someone lets you down and hurts you so deeply that you have difficulty dealing with the emotions and letting go of the anger. Some of you might still be carrying around baggage from years ago. If so, heed my tips for forgiving and moving on in life.
Identify the feelings and loss in your life
When my incident occurred, I had difficulty articulating my feelings. I knew I was hurt and angry, but I couldn’t make sense past that thought. As time went on, it became clearer to me what I had lost and why the situation had been so painful. It was helpful for me to put these thoughts down on paper and talk to close friends about the situation.
Allow yourself time to grieve
This is an important time in the process of forgiveness. Many women feel uncomfortable expressing negative emotions. During this time, allow yourself the opportunity to feel any emotions that seem natural for the situation. Don’t stuff the emotions down because this will only make it difficult to complete the process of forgiveness.
Try to see the situation outside your own pain
Easier said than done right? When you’re angry and in pain, you have difficulty seeing anything but what’s happening to you. However, when you get to the point where you can envision what that other person is actually feeling, you will move closer to finding the path to forgiveness.
Look for what the situation has taught you in life
No matter how bad the situation, there’s always a lesson somewhere. What have you learned from the experience? What did you not realize until the situation occurred? Find some bit of information that helps you gain perspective in life.
Forgive while not expecting anything in return
When you forgive someone, you let go of the idea of revenge and move on. It doesn’t mean you put yourself in a position that allows that individual to hurt you again— it just means you’ve made a decision in your heart to forgive them for their actions. YOU decide that you’re tired of holding on to the anger and hurt and their subsequent affect on your quality of life. Once you forgive and let go, you get to enjoy healthier relationships, less stress and anxiety and greater psychological well-being.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to finally unpack that suitcase and deal with some unfinished business.