How to Use Self Talk to Move Toward Forgiveness

Author: Diana Bigham, LMFT-S

Are you feeling consumed with emotional pain and can’t seem to stop replaying an offense? This is a common struggle that many people go through. Although we are familiar with the idea that unforgiveness is toxic for us, many are less familiar with how to heal from the pain.

Let’s first define forgiveness as releasing the weight of the internal pain and letting go our need to seek out personal revenge. It’s also important to be clear what forgiveness is not. It does not mean that there won’t be consequences to the injustice that was inflicted. Many times we need to seek justice through the legal system to protect others from further or similar harm, which is very different than trying to take matters into our own hands. We also need to set boundaries or end relationships with people who have hurt us because forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation. I’ve heard it stated that forgiveness is a one-person job, while reconciliation takes two willing parties.

Our self-talk, or inner dialogue, is pivotal in redirecting our focus. Here’s an example of what we can say to ourselves when starting the journey of healing from unforgiveness

Why did that bother me? Should I say anything to this person who offended me? If so, how and when should I set that boundary or give feedback? I won’t take their words or actions personally. Not everything is about me. Most of what people say and do are a reflection of what is in their own heart. If there is something about me that needs to change, then I will submit to that process of personal development. If this offense won’t shake, then it’s triggering a button in me. What is it? What’s the root? Do I have unhealed hurt in my heart? What is it? What do I need to do to work through this?

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