The past is a very important part of our lives especially when we are building our relationship’s foundation. To a very great extent, dealing with the past involves a lot of forgiveness. You must be willing to forgive yourself and your partner. So many things contribute to our past; our decisions, how we were brought up, our past relationships and other circumstances that life gave us. The question then becomes, how can I be happy in my relationship and deal with the past without it affecting me?
It is good to weigh your situation as you begin the journey of forgiveness. I am a big believer that you can forgive but you cannot forget. When they say forgive and forget; they mean that you should not use somebody’s mistake against them and keep reminding them that they wronged you. Forgiveness starts with making a decision that it is worth to forgive the person who wronged you. It is not a one-day event, it is instead a continuous effort.
First things first,
Before I get into forgiveness; let me highlight some manifestations of the past that may affect your current relationship. The most common one is previous relationships. Maybe you were mistreated in your previous relationships, now you may have found somewhat a good relationship but you’re very suspicious that it may turn out just the same way as all other relationships. The result of this is endless insecurities. You always need reassurance that you look good, you do not like any criticism and each time you have something like, ‘you never …’ to say to your partner.
Secondly, how you were brought up. This is very long so I choose to cover it in an upcoming post. All in all, be very conscious that your background affects your relationship in ways that if you are not conscious will lead to having somewhat miserable relationships. Lastly, our decisions in the past. Choices like leaving the right one for a completely wrong one or leading a questionable and controversial life.
All those and other that I may have skipped, lead us to carry a lot of burden and expectations for our relationships. It is probably something we cannot avoid or run away from but we can learn how to deal with it. As I mentioned, forgiveness is a process.
1. Identify the cause
What annoyed you the most? What it is about your partner that really disturbs you? Do you have unanswered questions? What are you bitter about? What made you start feeling that way? Can you change it? No, because you cannot undo what has already been done and you cannot also change somebody to the person you want. Are you willing to forgive him/her for the sake of a better relationship? Is your relationship worth going through the process of forgiveness?
2. Write what your heart feels (Pour out your heart)
Identifying the cause may be quite difficult. In life, there are many questions that we might not have answers to and will probably not get answers to. For me, writing how I feel always works to relieve my heart of any burdens. It is up to you, you may choose to write or just talk about it with somebody whom you trust. Make sure you pour out all that you feel including all your fears. Always remember a problem shared is half solved. At this point, you do not need any help yet. Tell the person you are talking to that he/she just needs to listen without correcting you.
3. Talk to your partner about the issues you may have.
Being vulnerable and open with your partner strengthens the bond in your relationship because your partner feels that you can trust them. Do not blame your partner for anything and warn your partner that it is not his/her fault that you feel that way. On the other hand, it is not your fault too that you are afraid or you have unanswered questions. The point of this step is to enable your partner to understand why sometimes you act the way do. You may discuss how you may help each other to overcome the past. At the same time, remember that this does not give a qualification to behave the way you feel like; there has to be a deliberate effort from you to fight your fears and overcome your past.
4. Make the decision to forgive
Forgiveness can be hard. What do you need to do in order to forgive yourself or the one who hurt you? Do you need to talk to them? Not all questions you have may have answers. Accept the circumstances and start building yourself. It is not possible to change the past, therefore, it is not worth it to live with that burden. Engage in more community outreach, talk about your setbacks with trustworthy friends and keep your partner involved in the progress. The bitterness begins to fade.
5. Learn how to act
What do you do when you feel the bitterness trickle in? There will be times when your partner might do something and it triggers all your fears; what are you supposed to do? Always be calm. It is okay to feel helpless and fears that it will turn out the same way. Take some time away to think about it. The problem with confronting your partner immediately is that you will end up blaming him/her for something that he/she did not know would hurt you. After you have calmed down, you may talk about why the incident hurt you. Do not play the blame game and since you had talked to him about your fears earlier, he/she should be in a position to understand.
Dealing with issues of the past has never been an easy task. It affects each and every person. Do not be discouraged. I have been there and have successfully overcome the past. Share and comment below how you deal with the past.