Do you feel stuck in anger and resentment or are you wanting them to pay in some way for what they did? Both are very normal reactions when we have been hurt and/or something precious has been taken from us.
We have this innate sense of justice especially when the victim of the wrong doing is ourselves or someone we care about. We have this sense that if we forgive them, we are letting them off the hook that they are escaping justice. We also want our hurt to be acknowledged either by seeing justice served, receiving an apology or at least seeing some kind of remorse. Many times even if justice is served we can feel trapped in anger or fear affecting other areas of our lives. This does not only apply to crimes, traumas or bigger things but also every day, small things that can leave us feeling bruised by people's words and actions.
Forgiveness is a way to move forward and it does not mean that what was done is ok or that what happened must be forgotten. It is about stopping that memory from continuing to victimize you. The person that benefits the most from forgiveness is you and the other person may never even know. Forgiveness frees you from the past, empowers you to create the future you want. Take your power back!
Give yourself permission to seek help with this. The first step can be the hardest as we want to stop pushing down the emotions and feelings around the hurt. When we bury these emotions they turn into anger, resentment and actions that keep us in the hurt. Process the hurt, speak with someone who will listen. Having another person acknowledge that the you were wronged is very powerful and can allow you to process the hurt and let it heal. Beware to not get stuck in rumination (compulsively focused attention on one's distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions). Journal about the hurt from a place of empathy. Perhaps the person that hurt you has a non healthy way of dealing with their problems and they took it out on you. When people are hurting others, they are transferring what is happening inside them to others. When someone lashes out at you, it is not about you but about something that is being triggered for them that they are reacting to in an unhealthy way. It can be as simple as a word or a look that triggers a feeling of being not good enough.
Think of a time that you were angry and felt triggered. Perhaps you yelled, slammed a door, said things that you regretted, gave the look and silent treatment. We tend to stop at anger however anger is a catch all like frustration. We need to look a little deeper. Anger is triggered by something else... hurt, feelings of not being smart..pretty...or simply not good enough. Sometimes when we are triggered we do things that hurt others. This can be small things or it can be big things. It can cause a person to drink and drive, be abusive, or hurt those closest to them or complete strangers. I am not giving excuses for the behaviours however providing a different perspective.
Give yourself permission to forgive the offender. During the process you might see that the anger and resentment may have caused you to react in a way that you are not proud of. Forgive yourself as well.
When journaling just let it all out without judgement. You are letting all that built up energy out. You may see things, that when you review it to be exaggerated. Next put the event into perspective. Was it really that bad (maybe it was, maybe it wasn't)? Was it really about me or was something being triggered for them? What do I notice now that I did not before?
Can I let this go? Do I see the value of forgiveness? If I choose to not forgive what will my anger, my resentment, or continuing to seek justice cost me? Cost others I care about? What benefits is there to laying this down? Can I give myself permission to forgive them?