This is a deep, deep issue.
It’s so hard.
When I was going through depression, there was a lot of people that I desperately, frantically sought help from.
Some of those people gave me a lot of rubbish advice. Honestly, what made me cry was that it was all a joke to them.
What kept me awake all night, seemed so trivial to them.
And they annoyed the hell out of me.
This was my first hand experience of forgiving people whose words stung, whose attitude broke me.
Though I was in misery, these were the people that deepened my wound.
And little by little as I came out of depression, I started to realize how much I ‘hated’ these people. Yes, that’s the word. I couldn’t stand them. Just thinking of them would make my head boil. But guess what happened then?
Soon enough I became preoccupied with them. I formulated arguments within my mind to justify why I was right and what they did wrong. Even the mention of their names would set me off.
At one point I realised I don’t want these people in my life. I don’t want anything to do with them. I don’t ever want to think about them or have them in my future. That was the beginning of journey to forgiving people who deeply hurt me. Below are the realizations and steps I took at the time. It will take time and you will be stronger. Here are the steps:
1. You forgive the person for your betterment not theirs
That person that did X to you or said Y to you, was a complete fool. Yes they were in the wrong. But you can’t hold it against them for the rest of your life. Forgiving them has nothing to do with them. They’ll probably remain the same but it has everything to do with you. You’ll be a lot happier when you can be at peace with people. You’ll get to the point where you don’t even remember them any more. If you do come across them, you’ll shrug them off – who cares about them? They have no place in your life. And you’re much more happier this way.
I can forgive people not because they deserve it – heck no! It drives me insane when I don’t. I can spend so much time thinking about X person, what they did, what they said, how wrong they were but it makes me go crazy. And that’s why I forgive people – to make my life easier not theirs.
I can finally live in peace with myself. Any hatred or anger that you carry only harms you. In the same way any jealousy, envy etc. only harms the person bearing the emotion.
2. Feel empathy for them:
Truth be told, whatever they did to you was because they didn’t know any better. In fact they probably did the best they could. Think deeply about their upbringing. What made them do/say that? Do they behave like this with other people? With the people that offended me, I realised they lived in such a cultural, social ‘bubble’. They had no idea what pain I was going through, so their best reply was ‘Don’t worry about it, have faith in Allah’ – for someone going through depression that is the worst, inconsiderate reply. Soon enough I began to feel empathy for them instead of anger. I thought of their upbringing and lifestyle and realised they’re so set in their ways, it has nothing to do with me. They’re wrong 100% and I’m not going to suffer and take the burden upon myself for their shortcomings.
3. Break the Pattern and Change it
When I would hear about these people, (there were many!) or somehow see them, I would instantly become frustrated and angry. It was an automatic reaction and I would go into a frenzy of depressive thinking and a fire ball of emotions.
Moment by moment I trained my mind to stop running on autopilot. When I would hear about these people, instead of running through the same destructive cycle I would instantly change my focus. I would change my thoughts, feelings and what I’m looking at to break the old habit. The moment the thought came into my mind I would distract myself with something else – anything, just to get my mind off it. So get into the habit of not reacting. Do absolutely anything to break that cycle.
4. Speak to Allah
When I was going through depression, I would profusely cry and make dua to Allah. I had lost my appetite by then and even lost the will to exist. I remember so clearly making a dua asking Allah to take my life away whilst I’m still Muslim. That’s how sever it got. The one thing that kept me going was making dua and that included crying and letting out all my thoughts. They’re were days were I cried, questioned Allah, got angry and it was just a whole mess. But it got me through. Before Allah I hid nothing, I remember having full conversations with Allah and presenting my side of the argument – it was crazy but I was speaking to the One who would never let me down.
For me it is a miracle that I write this now. Just a few years back and it was a whole different story. No matter how bad your life gets (or how good) don’t let go of Allah. I promise you He will never leave you. Whatever is bugging you, speak to Him, say everything you need to and don’t hold back.