**Read Part 1, if you haven't yet.
Part 2 of this post is what I really love. It's a collection of things I've done and things I've seen done, things that have worked, things made me think differently, things that have my opened my heart and opened my mind to a new future of happiness and understanding. My wish for you is that you can begin a journey of forgiveness and find yourself along the way.
Before I begin, I want to be clear that people go through all kinds of trauma: from robbery, to childhood bullying, to abuse of all kinds, to infidelity and other betrayals, and many more. I do not wish to minimize your pain or suffering. I only wish to help you get through them. These are suggestions that can help you if you just let your heart open to the possibility of trying.
1. Seek out help
There are many support groups, 12 step groups, therapists, counselors and organizations that are helping people deal with exactly what you are. Do some research, seek them out. Often, finding a group of people who are dealing with similar pain to you can help you find comfort, understanding, and community. Just having a single person say to you, "You're not crazy, I have been there, too." can be worth immeasurable healing. Feeling that you are all alone in your distress can keep you isolated and stuck. Seek out others. When you see and speak with people who have "been there" and gotten through, you may gain strength.
2. Create a ritual
One of my favorite methods for creating closure and signaling the end of a period is through the use of a ritual. Do this: write our your story. The whole mess. Then burn it in a fire. Or, bury it. Another lovely thing to do is to plant a forgiveness garden. Yeah, I said it. Write the person’s name (who has hurt you), or the story, or whatever you need, and bury it with a beautiful plant above. Let beauty grow from the pain.
3. Ask yourself: “How did I contribute to the event? What have I learned from the event?”
Sometimes when we take the time to know our part or we see what we’ve learned about others and ourselves after we’ve been hurt, we can come to see a tragedy as a blessing. As an example, say you were part of a group of friends and you left out of a trip or party. Try to understand if there was anything you may have done to cause your friends not to want to spend time with you. Did you gossip? Did you talk behind others back? Did you make people feel guilty about the time they do spend with you? See where your behavior may have played a part.
4. Refuse to see yourself as a victim
People will try to take things from us: our possessions, our pride, our dignity, our honor, our safety, etc., but we have the power to take those things back. It is as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Take that consent back.
5. Learn to nurture yourself
There will be times when the old hurts will come back. They’ll prey upon your mind and make you feel sad, depressed, irritable, and not right with the world. At those times it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and do the hard work of telling yourself that in the present moment, as you are RIGHT THEN, you are okay, you are safe, and no one is hurting you. Then, take care of yourself. Go for a walk, play with a pet, talk to a friend, make yourself tea, ask for help from trusted individuals.
One note here:
Be very careful not to abuse yourself further. It’s a bad idea to nurture yourself with alcohol, food, drugs, or other things that might make you feel more guilty, more “less than.” Unfortunately, society tells us it’s okay to comfort ourselves with food, alcohol, etc., but when you’re already down, it can be very difficult to make good choices about those things. The last thing you want is to eat a whole cake or box of cookies in your misery, or to get drunk and say things and call people you wish you hadn’t .
6. Give back. (My very favorite)
Having been through a tough time, having done (or still doing) the hard, hard work of forgiving, you have many gifts to offer. Become part of the support community. Offer your time and your experience to help others through the process. Use your strength to benefit the greater good and watch your blessings flow like water.
Finally, sometimes the most difficult job is forgiving ourselves. We are masters at beating ourselves up. At feeling bad about something we did to someone years ago. You can use all these steps to help work through that as well. In all the religions of the world there is a strong propensity towards forgiveness. Understand that forgiveness is for you, too. Your very nature is love. You may have done bad things to people, but you don’t have to do them anymore. You can change; you can be that which you were always intended to be. Take that step NOW.
Often the very things that rob us of breath and body can be our greatest source of strength. Only you know what you have been through and survived. Think of yourself as just that survivor and THRIVE. Let the past go; it is only a memory, a series of electrical impulses hardwired to fire in your brain. Retrain your brain, reclaim your joy. Forgive and find that you are free to fulfill your life’s wishes and dreams.