Have you ever felt wronged or abused by someone?
Everyone at some point or another has felt disappointed in and disillusioned by others’ words or actions. We all create images of specific roles we desire certain people to play in our lives. We long for the comfort of family, friends, and colleagues. We look up to teachers and mentors for inspiration.
What happens when the people in your life who you care about, and who you thought cared about you, begin to hurt or wrong you? How do you recover from the betrayal?
Deep-rooted abuse can be especially hard to reconcile. Often in painful situations, we either flee or become numb and continue to participate in the victim-abuser cycle. Every situation is different. (I’m not an expert and can only speak from my own experiences.)
In most cases, if someone hurts you, the most important thing to do is to tell them so. Since we are all so self-absorbed in maintaining our own self-worth and identity, we often don’t realize that our words and actions are harming others. If you are able to point out to your friend, family member or colleague that what they just did hurt you, then the door to reconciliation has been opened.
However, this can be tricky, because people are stubborn, feel attacked and can’t come to terms with themselves. Playing the blame game is a slippery slope. Pointing a finger only at the other person doesn’t solve anything and creates much resentment. When in relationship with others, it is always a two-way street.
People often fit into two categories: those who have a complete inability to apologize and say “I’m sorry,” and those who are constantly guilt-ridden, blame themselves for everything and inappropriately say “I’m sorry” for everything. Where is the healthy boundary?
In order for true reconciliation to take place, all expectations must be thrown out the window. This is a catch-22 because we expect our kids to behave, our spouses or partners to be supportive and forgiving, and our employees to submit to the authority of their boss.
However, human nature sometimes makes it difficult for us to let things go. Hence, grudges are born, bitterness permeates and extreme self-justification becomes prevalent. These are all defense mechanisms.
It is important to guard yourself against repeat abuse, but at the same time a certain amount of walls must be broken down in order truly to feel inner peace. Holding the weight of ill will just gets heavier and heavier over time, and is no way to live a joyful life.
If someone is unwilling to speak to you or you don’t feel safe inviting him or her back into your life, I recommend writing a letter to this person. (You don’t have to give it to them.) Ask them for forgiveness for any pain you caused them, even if you truly don’t believe you had a part to play. Let them know that you have forgiven them for all the pain they have caused you.
If you are at a point where you can reopen the door, perhaps actually send the letter, pick up the phone or meet in person. This all depends on how safe you feel. If you don’t trust yourself to make the proper judgment, perhaps solicit advice from a trustworthy friend or counselor.
Also, remember that time is the best healer. A period of silence, space and reflection between both parties may be necessary and is a good thing.
Perhaps reconciliation with this person is completely out of the question. This is always sad to me because I believe that reconciliation can always be possible. However, if you don’t believe this to be so, it is important to forgive and reconcile what has taken place within yourself.
Give it up to God, the universe or whatever your faith system is. If you insist on carrying the weight and not dealing with it properly, then it can begin to show up in other areas of your life or in other relationships.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 May 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Bach, K. (2014). How to Forgive Those Who Have Wronged You. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/06/02/how-to-forgive-those-who-have-wronged-you/