We all make mistakes in life; most people have regrets, and the power of forgiveness helps you move forward. This applies to all relationships, especially with your partner.
Holding grudges and hurling insults across a room during an argument won't deepen your love. It will only create a deep divide between you and your partner. Learning to practice forgiveness in your relationships helps you understand yourself better and what causes you pain, improves your communication, teaches you empathy, tears down walls of resentment, and so much more.
How to Practice Forgiveness in Relationships.
Like anything worthy in life, it requires mindfulness, the willingness to let go of the ego, and openness to change for personal growth.
Relationships, like people, can fall into patterns, some good, others not so good. Without forgiveness, relationships will erode over time and shut down opportunities for healthy communication.
Reflect for a moment to think about when you inadvertently or even purposefully hurt a friend or a romantic partner.
Were you forgiven by your friend, partner, or family member?
If they didn’t forgive you, how did it make you feel it?
What role did you play in the breakdown of communication?
Forgiveness is always an option, but is it always easy? If your belief system is black and white vs. grey, with "shoulds" instead of "it would be nice," then giving and receiving forgiveness will be challenging. If your goal is to become a forgiving person, the habit becomes an unconscious decision over time.
Learn to Identify Your Inner Pain. What Specifically do You Find Hurtful?
Practice speaking your truth instead of reacting and placing blame. Work on expressing what situations or behaviors specifically cause you emotional pain. Be honest with yourself and your partner in your relationship about the cause of pain. Own what it is you expect in a relationship.
For example, if trust is paramount in your relationship must-have list, express that need to your partner. Perhaps your father or mother cheated in their marriage, and this impacted you. You may be projecting your pain towards this and sabotaging your romantic relationships. When you are vulnerable with the person you love and honest with yourself, it helps the process of understanding and allows for forgiveness.
Releasing Anger, Hurt, and Frustration is Key to Forgiveness.
With the practice of self-love, you have the ability to release anger, hurt, and frustration. The more you take responsibility for your own happiness, the more empowered you become in your life. The more empowered you become, the easier it is to let go of past offenses and move forward.
Forgiving doesn't mean you are condoning bad behavior or ignoring it. Instead, you are learning to grow your strength, to develop a way of navigating without fear and emotional pain. In every situation where forgiveness is needed, there is a lesson within - take the time to learn the lesson.
Learning the lesson comes when you switch the focus from blaming the other person to understanding yourself. When you know more about yourself, then "I get you," perspectives begin to fall into place. You begin to realize how exceptional you are and how important it is to nurture and heal yourself.
Forgiveness is Easier When you Cultivate Empathy for Yourself and Others.
Empathy doesn't mean you have to make excuses for bad behavior, and it also doesn't mean you have to tolerate repeated hurtful behavior.
Empathy is about stepping into another person’s shoes to understand their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions from their point of view - not your own. This is not saying you have to agree with the person’s perceptions. Empathy gives you insight into another person’s inner world for better understanding.
Forgiveness is a bit easier when you can develop an empathetic heart and mind. Staying curious when listening to another’s point of view helps you let go of your own perceptions and say, “I get you. I now understand what you’re saying.”
Forgiveness Liberates you From the Toxicity of Resentment.
Resentment will negatively impact your entire life. Allowing yourself to forgive another empowers you, liberates you, and will enable you the freedom of spirit to move on. Couples who practice forgiveness and remove resentment have a strong foundation that can see them through the challenges of life.
Harboring negative feelings toward anyone is like a cancer and has the potential to destroy. You've got to let out and process these feelings by using some of the following:
Allow yourself a good cry
Journal your thoughts and feelings
Talk to a friend
Talk to a therapist
Go for a run or a walk
Take deep breaths
Scream into a pillow or go to a private place and yell
Read and reflect
Join a support group
Dance it off
Do whatever you need to release your negative emotions. When you hold the resentment within yourself, it only grows. When you dwell upon a person who hurt you, it allows that person to take up rent-free space in your heart and mind.
Take the time to connect with your inner spirit. That place is your haven and refuge to feel safe. Grow your inner awareness of your true authentic self, the spirit that is loving, kind, and compassionate. Whatever speaks to you from our list above, put your healing first.
When you practice forgiving your partner, it will build a strong bond of trust, empathy, and love that can grow despite setbacks, disagreements, and challenges.
Forgiveness Improves Your Relationships.
When you are free, unburdened by hurt and anger, you can live a life that is steeped in love, kindness, and personal growth.
Let's face it, we are all human, and we all make mistakes. Sometimes we grow weary and may feel tired, grumpy, or in physical pain, a catalyst for behaving less than optimal with our loved ones. You may even begin to see a pattern when people lash out that it comes from a place of fear or pain.
When you step back and look at the circumstances that contributed to a harsh word or an overreaction through a wide lens (not a narrow self-view), you can understand why there was a communication breakdown. Cracking open the barriers to communicate better in your relationships, sincere apologies and sincere forgiveness will flow much easier - ultimately improving all your relationships.
In those critical moments to seek or give forgiveness, you have a choice to free yourself through one of these healthy and loving actions:
Sincerely asking for forgiveness from the person you hurt.
Choose to forgive the person who hurt you sincerely.
Choosing to free yourself by giving and receiving forgiveness is a form of self-love and reminds you that you're worthy of respect and healthy love. Let go and open your heart and mind up to more forgiveness and love in your life.
If you're struggling with forgiving your partner or forgiveness of loved ones in your life, we're here to help. Check out our Imago Relationship Workshops and Imago Relationship Therapy.
Discover more about Imago with our Imago Professional Membership, Imago Professional Facilitators, Imago Professional Training and Imago Insights Education.
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This blog post was written by Mara Fisher, LCSW, MCC.
Mara is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Master Certified Coach. She is also a Certified Imago Therapist and Advanced Imago Therapist.
Mara's career has grown out of a gift of intuition – which she's been aware of since childhood – and a natural inclination for using that gift to help empower others. Guiding and coaching feel as adventurous to her as the way she's lived her life. Born in New York City, Mara took European trips in her youth and has lived in England, France, and New Mexico in the United States.
Mara believes the boldness and confidence she gained by taking risks and expanding boundaries have contributed to her personal and professional success. She loves seeing the joy in her clients when they find the courage to challenge themselves and transform their lives as well.
Mara has been a perpetual student, always exploring her inner self by learning new skills and techniques that help her to understand herself, other cultures, and what it is that makes us human. She applies that learning to enable her clients to live fully in the present, face the challenges in their futures, and live their dreams.
For nearly three decades, Mara has focused on methods that help her clients realize that they already have answers to their questions. Instead of letting them give their power to her because she can often intuit what is going on in their lives, she can help them claim their power and solve their own problems.
Today Mara serves clients all over the globe through telephone, zoom and email communications. Her approach with each individual is uniquely shaped by who they are and their circumstances and needs. Tools and techniques selected for each client come from the expertise she's built during her career.
Check out Mara's website too!