While the ultimate goal may be forgiveness, we can do what I call mental gymnastics, to help ourselves get over some of these hurdles without having to navigate the forgiveness path right away. It doesn’t mean we get to avoid it forever, but this can be helpful in allowing ourselves to get to a place where forgiveness becomes a valid option.
Mental gymnastics is what I refer to as the fine art of debating with yourself. It’s rationalizing yourself out of your own logic. It’s getting around all the things you think you know to be true and finding new logic that makes more sense and makes the path easier to navigate. I like to do this as a string of questions that we find our own answers to. Just keep circulating through the questions until something clicks for you. Often, it’ll help you find all the sticking points that are stopping you from being able to consider forgiveness. Sometimes it even leads to things we weren’t aware were a problem at all. Apply the questions below to your own situation.
- What do I think is true about my situation right now?
- What do I think is my responsibility in this situation? Essentially, what’s mine?
- What do I have control over in this situation?
- What are the other people in this situation responsible for and what do they have control over? (This is the stuff we can’t control. If dropping this stuff is hard to do, explore that. Why do you need to take responsibility for and control things you don’t have control over?)
- How do I feel about the things that I perceive to be mine? Am I ashamed? Do I feel guilty? Am I mad? Hurt? Confused?
- Why do I feel that way about those things?
- Based on who I was when this situation happened, could I have done better then? (The honest answer here is that you couldn’t have done better. You did the best you could from where you were at the time. However, dig into this a little bit, because chances are you think you could have or should have done better. Explore that. This is likely where the sticking point to healing and forgiveness is.)
- Is there anything I’m able to let go of now?
Continue to explore these questions using any new perspectives gained each time you answer them. Try this now in your journal with whatever topic or event is currently affecting you.
Using the mental gymnastics approach is a very logical way to deal with difficult topics and events. Each time you move through the logical process it helps to provide clarity. The clarity makes it easier to chip away at the emotional aspects of these same events, often the emotional charge falls away on its own once the clarity is gained. Over time, and with enough work, forgiveness happens more naturally. it doesn’t have to be forced and we don’t have to relive the entire event over and over again. The process is simpler and less painful.
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