The Essential Influence of Trusted People in Your Forgiveness Journey
When I talk about people who have hurt me to others, my words spew out the hurt brewing in my heart. It’s not cute, trust me. In my forgiveness journey with my daughter’s dad, I noticed that talking about him with certain people would rile me up and make me feel angrier than how I started the conversation. Other people validated the impact of his absence but also asked questions that invited me to set a vision for how I wanted to be in relationship with him. Surrounding myself with people that didn’t push away the reality of my hurt, but urged me to try different was new.
New is hard; venting is easy.
Venting quickly skips right over the gossip line and straight into bashing. Our words fuel our emotions for better or worse. Other people’s words have the power to set ablaze what we already believe, or to pick up the torch we lit with our anger and shine the light on a different path.
The truth is we’re not always interested in a new path. With venting, we feel justified in our position. We want our truth confirmed. Venting also allows us to stay on the surface of the conversation instead of getting vulnerable. While talking kindly about someone who hurt you just feels like a lie. Here’s the question that lit the torch for a third option for me and shone a light on a new path:
What does it look like to talk about them in a way that is honoring while sharing the reality of the situation?
Example: This week was really tough, I felt so alone. Their betrayal takes up a lot of my thoughts.
This. Shifted. Everything.
The Honest, Messy Truth
I wanted to be genuine and honest in how I portrayed the person who I was trying to forgive. At times, it even felt unfair to not blame, share the details, or roll my eyes and shake my head. But we’re not striving for fairness because fairness is a facade; it’s uncatchable. Fair is in the eye of the beholder. Fair keeps you right where you’re at – angry, bitter, resentful – until you get what you want, but you have no control over getting what you want. Put simply, chasing after fair steals your power because getting justice relies on the person who hurt you to fix the destruction caused. Now they have the power again.
Your power is found in forgiveness, and by now you know that.
(NOTE: The next paragraph focuses on forgiving people in your life whom you want a relationship with. If you’ve experienced trauma, this is not the process I use. Be sure to read part 5.)
One of the ingredients in the secret sauce to forgiveness is compassion for self and others. To stir compassion in myself, I would try to see things from their perspective, walking through a whole interaction pretending I was him. I would catch myself making assumptions about his actions. Then I would reflect on what the most generous perspective I could extend would be, and I’d choose that. You’re not making excuses for actions, you’re seeking a fresh perspective.
It may sound like taking the ugly truth and dressing it up with some cheap flowers. But regardless of how I see the situation, the circumstance doesn’t change. I’d rather choose to see someone’s actions in a way that is a stepping stone to forgiveness instead of another brick building the wall around my heart higher and stronger.
Your People Matter
The people I allowed to have the loudest influence spurred me to want to see things differently. I had my daughter as my inspiration – desperately wanting her to see her parents get along because she deserved that. Setting an example for her that I could be proud of was my highest priority. I bet you have an inspiration too and that inspiration might just be you. Wanting more for you is an ample inspiration – it’s more than enough to encourage you to follow the next stepping stone toward forgiveness.
My community and mentors propelled me to pursue more. More than staying stuck in what would never be. Pushing through expectations to embrace current reality was a marker of freedom for me that never could have happened without the few who spoke with grace and truth into my life.
Choose Your People
Here’s one of my favorite activities that I adapted from Brené Brown that helps with boundaries, identifying roadblocks, and most importantly, who your go-to people are.
- Take out a sticky note and fold it into fourths. We’re looking for a 1inch by 1inch piece of paper so any corner of a notepad will do!
- Only writing on one side, list the people that you let speak with influence into your life. You know they have influence if you change your mind, adapt your behavior or make excuses for your behavior to them.
- Reading back over your list, let’s audit. Is there anyone on there who you don’t trust in their judgment? Based on their life story and their choices, is it a similar path you want to walk down? Do they challenge you to see things differently or feed your fire of bitterness? Is there anyone that you feel should be on the list but you don’t want there (mom, dad, sister, brother, etc.)? “I should have this person on my list” is not a good enough reason to hand someone the power to speak into your life.
- Cross off anyone who didn’t make the cut from step 3.
- Now, is anyone missing? Add them now. Is there someone on here that believes in you, maybe even more than you believe in yourself?
- Put this list somewhere visible as a reminder of whose voices get to be loud and which need to dull or go in one ear and out the other.
This activity revealed that the voices loudest in my life weren’t even the ones I respected most. What did you notice about your list?
Tie together the practical “Choose Your People” activity with a cold, rude awakening that venting is doing you no favors. If you’re serious about choosing forgiveness, your people play a huge role in your success. Even if someone wants to keep bashing like you used to do together, sure, you can change the topic. Or… give the magic question a try: What does it look like to talk about them in a way that is honoring while sharing the reality of the situation?
But what about those times when you thought you had forgiven, and bitterness creeps in… again. You might ask yourself, “Have I made any progress??” There are times when you just feel stuck. Let’s talk about how you can gain momentum again. Click “NEXT” below to read part 5 in this forgiveness series.
Your situation is unique and your story of forgiveness may look different. Sure, you can work through your own stuff, but sitting with someone else empowers you to see your story from new perspectives and find fresh personal insight. We’ll unpack your barriers to choosing forgiveness and you’ll set a vision for where you want to be. Book your free exploration call today to see if we’re a good fit. I don’t even have to ask, I know you’re ready to get unstuck and gain momentum in your healing journey!
Not quite ready for coaching? I crafted something with you in mind! The hardest part of forgiveness is choosing to break the cycle of bitterness. Get instant access to my “Getting Started with Forgiveness” guidebook. With your story in mind, interactively explore:
- forgiveness myths and truths
- identifying fears and barriers in your path
- the key ingredient to forgiveness
- tracing thoughts that feed bitterness and inserting replacement patterns
- setting your personalized vision for freedom
Get Started with Forgiveness
one step at a time
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