Forgive and Set Boundaries--5 Steps to Protect Yourself
“Forgiveness allows us to let go of the pain in the memory and if we let go of the pain in the memory we can have the memory but it does not control us. When memory controls us we are then the puppets of the past.” – Alexandra Asseily. I love this quote because it is so true in the process of forgiveness. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you automatically forget everything that happened, it means you are making a conscious decision to let go of the pain and anger that is bringing you down, and learn for the memory.
Forgiving someone that has damaged your trust and security in the relationship, whether it is a fight with your siblings, other family members, or friends, the way you handle it is all the same. I recommend these 5 stages to help forgive and let go in difficult circumstances.
Give yourself permission. Wanting to forgive and actually embracing the processes of forgiveness are two very different concepts. Allowing yourself to do so is the first step in the process because it can sometimes be the hardest. Having to let go and allow yourself to be vulnerable in a situation you were once hurt can be scary. But it can build your confidence, courage, and self-esteem knowing you can get through some tough experiences EVEN IF the situation does repeat itself. It builds your confidence knowing that whatever life brings, you have the strength to overcome it. Holding on to resentment and anger won’t make the other person or the situation any better and it will only hurt you.
Be self-aware. Tune into your feelings and identify why you’re upset. Avoidance is never a good long-term approach because it will come out in the relationship in other destructive ways.
Consider the past and present. Look at the (offending) persons past behavior. If they have done this numerous times in the past, you will probably want to keep your guard a little closer until that pattern starts to disappear. But if this was a one time thing and their past behavior gives no real indication that it will happen again, then their prior years of consistent stability should stand for something.
Set a healthy baseline. Don’t be afraid to be honest when something is bothering you. The only way people will know which lines they can cross, is if you allow them to do so. Be assertive and confront the situation levelheaded but direct, and you will set a healthy baseline of your expectations.
Start small. When healing from a damaged relationship trying to go back and pretend that everything is normal is just avoiding the reality, which is only a short-term solution. Start small so you can build the confidence and trust back. Being self-aware is very important at this stage too, so you can determine the appropriate pace that works for you and discuss it.
Being angry and holding on to pain uses a lot of physical and emotional energy. Releasing yourself of that turmoil will allow you to having more energy that you can focus towards things that make you happy. Keeping that resentment with you is only forcing yourself to live the painful moment, every single day. Who is that really helping? Forgive and allow yourself to be happy.
Authors: Jada Jackson LMHC and Danielle James, Intern