There is a well known saying that goes: Forgive and forget. Though anyone who knows anything, knows that while you can choose to forgive, forgetting is rarely an optional extra. After all, the ‘forget’ portion of that little quote is rather misleading. Why? Because it doesn’t mean that you should literally ‘forget’ what your ex did to you, but rather that you should put it behind you and move on.
According to WebMD, in addition to the reduced stress, lower blood pressure and stronger immune system that forgiveness brings, there are a host of other physical benefits to be gained by letting go of that grudge. Reduced headaches and back pain, fewer stomach problems, and even reduced instances of depression and anxiety are also side effects of forgiveness.
To quote Tom Hanks’ character in A League of Their Own, “…if it were easy, everyone would do it!” Forgiveness is hard, and it requires commitment and patience, because like most difficult things, it cannot be achieved in a day.
So the first thing you need to realize if you are hoping to work towards forgiving your ex after your divorce, is that it’s going to take a while. Be patient with yourself. Accepting that it’s a process will help to alleviate anxiety when you feel like you’re making no progress, and cut yourself some slack when you struggle.
Frederic Luskin, PhD, who directs the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, will be the first to tell you that it cannot be forced, and that cultivating forgiveness requires a certain frame of mind. It’s about what you choose to focus on, and how you choose to think about things.
First and foremost, is gratitude.
According to Luskin, “Gratitude is simply focusing your attention on the positive things that have happened.” To what end, you may wonder? Well, because it “…creates a biochemical experience that makes it more likely that forgiveness will occur.” In other words, focus on what is positive in your life, and forgiveness will, over time, become easier.
Next is stress management. According to Luskin, the methods you use are less important than the end result. Yoga, meditation, controlled breathing, whatever it takes. If you can work to reduce the stress brought on by anger and resentment after your divorce, you can work towards attaining a more forgiving frame of mind.
Also, there is cognitive reframing, which sounds complicated but actually refers to the simple act of adjusting your expectations. Try to be realistic about your life, and accept what is rather than what you think should be.
And finally, Luskin says, you need to change the story you tell yourself in your head. It’s amazing how putting a positive spin on something can change a victim’s story into a survivor’s heroic tale. Cast your internal story in a positive light, focusing on a hopeful future and not a painful past, and forgiveness will be that much easier to achieve.
Join us next time when we look at some suggested steps towards actually forgiving – what that looks like and how you can reach that goal. Until then, if you or a loved one are in need of assistance as you work through your divorce – the part that comes before the forgiveness – call The Kronzek Firm today at 866 766 5246. We are here to help you.