Forgiving Others for Injuring or Failing You
“Leaving Loneliness: A Workbook: Building Relationships with Yourself and Others”
by David S. Narang Ph.D
Forgiving Others for Injuring or Failing You. Wise Tips and Thoughts
Please refer back to the ‘Healing Your Deeper Emotional Injuries’ activity (whether from the Attachment Anxiety chapter or the Attachment Avoidance chapter; there were parallel activities in either chapter of the book you completed). In that activity, you listed an instance of someone failing you or directly wounding you emotionally, which caused you great pain. It is normal to avoid thinking about that incident, to be angry with him/her, or to wish that this person would now repair the damage he/she did to you. However, remaining in any of these positions for a long period of time is a trap. If you cannot heal from the incident in some way, it will depress your mood, cause irritability, and prevent you from pointing all of that energy toward building activities and relationships that can satisfy you. This exercise is a step toward reclaiming some of that energy lost to injuries that you have not yet been able to forgive (forgiving others).
Consider a paycheck where 50 percent of the pay was skimmed before you ever saw the check. You would be accustomed to that smaller amount. What if, suddenly, that missing 50 percent was added back to your paychecks? You would now notice a huge increase in pay, an increase you had previously learned to live without but that now would open up new possibilities. Significant emotional injuries that you have not yet healed from or forgiven are like having your energy ‘skimmed’ off the top, but you sure would notice that missing energy once it belonged to you again. While some activities in this book have been about healing these injuries, we have not gotten to forgiving others until now. In the ‘Healing Your Deeper Emotional Injuries’ activity, you provided an example of an incident that hurt you (question two of that activity if you did the activity in the Attachment Anxiety chapter, question one if you did that activity within the Attachment Avoidance chapter). For review and clarity, please summarize the incident itself and the injury it caused you, as you wrote about it in the ‘Healing Your Deeper Emotional Injuries’ activity. Forgiving Others.
To deeply understand the person, consider his/her life history and the immediate context for his/her actions. As you understand it, how did he/she come to do the thing that hurt you? In order to prepare to forgive, you may need to first release some related distress. For example, you might write your story and crumple it up, or you may tell your story to an empathic friend/family member and ask him/her to simply listen, or you might simply calmly repeat to yourself, “I forgive him/her,” etcetera. Ask yourself, “What do I need to do in preparation that will help me forgive (forgiving others) this person/people?” What is the first step you must do to develop forgiveness for the thing listed above? Do that first thing now, or if it is not reasonably possible, make a plan about when you will do it (try not to put it off without a clear plan). If not possible right now, when will you do it? Forgiving does not mean that you are forgetting the injury or its significance, or that you would necessarily let that person close to you if you suspected he/she would harm you again. It means that you release your focus upon that matter and upon blaming the injuring party.
Forgiving Yourself and Forgiving Others for Past Mistakes
What are the two biggest mistakes you have made in your life thus far? How did your life history and experiences up to that point set the stage for you to make each mistake?
Forgiving Others. Past experiences leading to mistake 1:
Forgiving Others. Past experiences leading to mistake 2:
Forgiving Others. When we make big mistakes, we are usually trying to meet a legitimate need in a poor manner. For example, marrying a nutty partner might, among many other possible reasons, be due to wanting to ensure having another ’s love consistently by marrying someone who is highly dependent. Likewise, staying in a lowerlevel job than one is qualified for could be due to wanting to feel highly competent at one’s work and thus being reluctant to take on risks or challenges, et cetera. These are a few examples of ways that people may strive to meet legitimate internal needs through unhealthy choices. In regards to the two mistakes you listed above, what legitimate needs were you trying to satisfy when making each mistake?
Forgiving Others. Legitimate need behind mistake 1:
Forgiving Others. Legitimate need behind mistake 2:
How can you get each of these two legitimate needs met in healthier ways so that in the future you are less likely to make the same mistakes?
Forgiving Others. Healthy way to meet first need listed above:
Forgiving Others. Healthy way to meet second need listed above:
To be continued…