by: Iain Legg
One stumbling block that can prevent you from feeling empowered is the inability to forgive – both others and yourself.
Disempowerment often contributes to a self-image of weakness and powerlessness, which makes it difficult to forgive others for hurting or betraying you – or forgiving yourself for allowing it – because you believe that forgiveness means accepting or condoning the poor treatment.
However, forgiveness is necessary if you want to become an empowered person! Why? Because a truly empowered person knows that nothing can detract from their strength and value, including hurtful words and actions by others. In order to release the pain of the past and move into a confident new future, learning how to forgive others and yourself is vital.
Below you’ll find two simple exercises that will help you to forgive:
First, try working on forgiving the people who have hurt you in the past. These people might be your parents or guardians, previous (or current) romantic partners, friends, bosses, co-workers, or anyone else who has treated you with less respect and kindness than you deserve.
Start by writing out the things they did and how they made you feel. Now, call up a mental image of each of these people in turn. Tell them mentally how their words and actions made you feel. Express your hurt, anger, rage, sadness, pain and anything else you feel or felt at the time.
Then, mentally say something like this to each of them, “Even though you hurt me, I choose to forgive you now and release any pain I still carry in my mind, emotions and body.”
Understand that by forgiving them, you are NOT affirming that their actions were acceptable. Instead, you are choosing to release the negative effects those actions had on you and your life. There’s a big difference between those two mind-sets!
Know also that forgiveness may take time. You may have to go through the exercise several times before you truly begin to feel like you can let it go. That’s okay, just keep doing it and eventually you’ll begin to feel stronger.
It can often be more difficult to forgive yourself than others because poor self-esteem often goes along with disempowerment. You may feel that you don’t deserve forgiveness; or believe that you’re a terrible person who deserves to be punished.
However, using the same process as described above can help you to learn to love and forgive yourself and release any feelings of self-hatred. Begin by writing down any memories of times you belittled or hurt yourself. Also, take another look at the things you wrote about others and ask if you played a part in the hurt that resulted from those situations.
Then begin working on forgiving yourself. Acknowledge that you did the best you could at the time, but now you are choosing to forgive yourself and move on.
Once again, this process will take time and consistent effort before you’ll see lasting changes.
When you truly commit to forgiving others and yourself, you are able to let go of emotional baggage and move confidently into a better future feeling lighter, calmer and in greater control of your life – which equals empowerment!