Forgiveness is the balm that soothes the sting from a friend who hurt you.
Friendships are a source of fun, companionship, love and support. There is a bond of trust and loyalty between close friends that provides the freedom to be real, authentic and honest. We each have a need to share our deepest secrets, express raw feelings, bounce ideas around, and get a reality check when we’ve wandered off course. Friends provide a safe haven to do all this. So when a friend betrays or hurts you in some way, it really stings. They have broken the bond of trust.
Forgiveness may not repair the friendship, as too much may have been damaged. But it supports the release of pain, prevents trust from being totally eroded, and restores faith in oneself to be bigger than the discord. Forgiving a friend means letting go of resentment, judgment and pain, while embracing love, compassion and freedom.
It may not be easy at first to forgive a friend who hurt you, but here are six steps that will ease your pain and bring you closer to forgiveness.
1. Write a letter. Sometimes we need to get our thoughts and feelings out of our head as a way to gain clarity and move towards forgiving a friend. Without intending to send the letter, write down all of your thoughts and feelings. Let it all out – express your anger, shock, sadness and any judgments you have. If you would like to actually send a letter to your friend expressing your feelings, write a few draft letters first to get the charge out. Then you will be able to communicate more clearly from your heart and soul rather than from your pain.
2. Honor your emotions. Hurt and betrayal can trigger a whole array of emotions including anger, resentment, sadness, fear and doubt. Feeling each of these and giving them space to breathe will allow them to release. Let go of the story and simply feel the most dominant emotion. Know that you are bigger than this strong vibration and watch its movement. Where do you feel it in your body? What sensations arise? Does it have a shape or color? Once it has been felt and released, notice what emotion is underneath and process it.
3. Identify old wounds. When our emotions feel raw or explosive, we may have lit up an old childhood wound. Look beyond the current experience of being hurt by your friend to see if it reminds you of a previous experience. This may provide you with an opportunity to heal old pain. Process any emotions related to the past and then look at the current experience with fresh eyes.
4. Practice acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean condoning what your friend said or did to hurt you. It simply means accepting reality as it is. When we are caught in right and wrong, or good and bad judgments, we move into resistance and this prevents healing. What someone should have done, isn’t a reality – what they did is. Let go of all judgments about what happened or what your friend should have done differently and accept your friend and the situation as they are. This will free your mind so you can settle into your heart, where forgiveness lives.
5. Feel the energy of forgiveness. Like any emotion or feeling, forgiveness is an energy which vibrates at a certain frequency – one that is high and light, supporting the release of pain. Close your eyes and center within. Turn off thoughts and relax into your body. Notice if your heart has closed and allow your heart to open. Feel the vibration of forgiveness in your heart. If you are visual, picture a beautiful rose several feet in front of you filled with the energy of forgiveness. Touch into this high, light vibration and let your body match it. Feel it flow from head to toe all the way down into the cells of your body. Allow it to melt away all pain and hurt from the experience with your friend. Then create an image of your friend a few feet away from you and look at him or her through the eyes of forgiveness. Tell them you forgive them and notice what this feels like. When it feels complete, let go of all the images and open your eyes.
6. Look for the gifts. Every experience we have, whether pleasant or painful, offers the opportunity for lessons, growth, and healing. Look past the experience of how your friend hurt you to the important life lessons it is providing you. What have you healed as a result? How will you grow from this experience? What has strengthened in you? What has softened?
From this place of forgiveness, you will be able to make a clear decision about whether to mend the friendship or let it go. Not all relationships are meant to last forever. Some people come into our lives to offer support at a crucial time or teach us an important (and sometimes painful) life lesson and then they leave. It’s up to us how we use this experience and what we gain from it.
Do you have any questions or insights on forgiving a friend who hurt you? Please share below.