By Jennifer Butler
Abandoned. Rejected. Heartbroken. Betrayed. Confused. Left behind.
For many, going through a divorce will trigger some, or even all, of the feelings listed above. No matter what the circumstances surrounding the end of a committed union, the process can be painful and even feel unbearable. Incessant thoughts may swarm around in your head, resentments may build, and time may tick by while it seems as though you get stuck in this life event you never planned for. How could this have happened and now that it has, how the heck will you find your way through it? You know grasping on to these feelings forever will only serve to harm you and that you need to find a way to forgive, but forgiveness seems an impossibility. After all, everyone says that forgiveness is key, but figuring out “how” to forgive is a whole other story.
When going through heartbreak, we tend to default to thinking about all of the things that have been done TO us in the relationship and the break up. Our minds become full of all the wrongdoings of our ex, the ways we were mistreated, and the unfair behaviors by this person we once loved. Our story becomes all about the other and without even realizing it, we paint this picture of being the victim in a very sad love story. We can’t understand the reasons for their behavior and therefore have no idea how we will ever even think about forgiving them.
When we perceive forgiveness in this way, with the focus on the other, we become completely powerless in the process and make the act of forgiving somewhat impossible. The only way to flip this around and lay a path toward forgiveness is to be willing to look at yourself and find the places within you that need to be forgiven. The key to forgiving others is taking the journey to forgiving yourself.
When I went through my divorce, I felt abandoned, rejected, and completely betrayed. These feelings overwhelmed me and threatened to break me down. I knew that I needed to find a way to heal and let go, but instead, my anger and resentment only seemed to grow at lighting speed. Time ticked by and I got further and further from any possibility of forgiving. And then I learned about shifting the focus from him to me, and instead began a journey toward forgiving myself. It wasn’t easy, and the path was a difficult one. I had to face some hard truths about myself, looking at the way I had abandoned, rejected, and betrayed myself over the years. Owning the ways I had shown up in my relationship as needy and small, therefore making myself invisible and creating a life that I resented. Once I was willing to go down this path, I then had the power to forgive myself and heal, and then forgiving my ex occurred somewhat naturally.
Making the choice to walk the path of self-forgiveness is a powerful and courageous journey toward healing.
Making the choice to walk the path of self-forgiveness is a powerful and courageous journey toward healing. It is one that will open your heart and free you of the negative feelings you have been weighed down with inside. It is one that will allow you to heal and move forward with freedom and joy. It is one that will truly make it possible for you to forgive the impossible. It is one that will open you up to the most beautiful transformation of your life.
The keys to forgiving yourself and others:
Be willing to take an honest look at yourself and be accountable for you. This does not mean you are accepting blame and certainly does not mean you are willing to accept disrespectful or inappropriate behavior.
Create a space of safety and love for yourself as you go through this journey. Taking an honest look at oneself does not mean placing blame on yourself or beating yourself up. It means taking back your power and providing yourself the ability to heal and move forward.
Ask for help and support when needed. This process can be a difficult one, so please seek guidance from a trained coach or therapist if you struggle or notice intense emotions being triggered.
There is a beautiful Hawaiian prayer called the Ho’oponopono Practice that aligns beautifully with the practice of self-forgiveness:
I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.
I offer this to you here as a comforting and powerful mantra to help you through those difficult moments. This prayer can be your reminder to keep your heart open and allow love to flow through you as you transform into all you have been created to be.
About the Author
Jennifer Butler is a writer and transformation coach, currently working as a community leader for DivorceForce. Beyond an extensive education, Jennifer also went through a life transformation as a result of her own divorce and has dedicated her work to supporting others. You can connect with Jennifer at JennJoyCoaching and on Instagram.