Forgiveness, like love, is not just an emotion but an action and a choice. It can, however, be a lot more elusive than love.
A lot of anger can justifiably build up as you struggle with chronic fatigue. You are angry at your body's betrayal. You are angry that people – perhaps even your own doctor – believe this disease is “all in your head.” Perhaps you are angry your friends and family aren't as willing to help as you need. You may be angry that more isn't being done to research and cure this devastating disease. Most of all, you are angry with yourself for not being able to do the things you feel you should still be able to do.
Unresolved anger can have destructive consequences. It is easy to allow yourself to become bogged down in bitterness. You may find yourself lashing out, pushing away people in your support system. You could find yourself sinking into depression or turning to substance abuse.
Forgiveness is the bridge to healing and acceptance. Wanting to forgive and knowing how are often two different things. There are many things you can do to become forgiving.
- Acknowledge and
experience your feelings
of hurt. Pretending you are fine is not helpful but leaves the wound to fester. You may want to write down your feelings. If you believe it will improve your relationship, share your feelings with the person who hurt you. Otherwise, don't bother. You don't want to waste your energy on revenge, and it won't make you feel better. Remember, the goal is not an apology, it is peace of mind and healing.
- Withhold judgment. You do not need to ascribe the worst possible motives to the person who has hurt you. The most likely explanation is simply ignorance. Friends and family may be in denial and
going through the grief process
, too. You are not the only one who has lost the “old” you.
- Search for your part in the encounter. This is not an invitation to beat yourself up! It is an invitation to learn. Can you be a little more assertive or informative? Do you need to remove yourself from or avoid potentially harmful situations? Exploring a situation can help empower you for future encounters.
- Do not dwell on the hurt. Playing it over and over in your mind only stokes the fire. When the situation comes to mind, replace it with an opposing thought – something good about the person, if possible. If not, think of something pleasant but completely unconnected. Move on.
- Occupy your time with positive pursuits. Even the smallest victories and accomplishments will make you feel better about yourself. Building confidence will make you less vulnerable to being hurt.
Remember, forgiveness is not a gift you give to the person who has harmed you; rather, it is a gift to yourself. You deserve the healing and peace of mind that forgiveness ultimately brings you.
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