How To Forgive Yourself For Having Been Abused

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It takes a lot of guts to live through a traumatic abusive relationship, so I want to congratulate you on your journey to loving yourself again.

You are reinventing your inner strength so that you can get back everything that was robbed of you by your aggressor.

You will be able to identify your issues, pinpoint your triggers, and replace self-destructive behaviors that arose in the presence of trauma with ones that serve you better and align with a positive, fulfilling life. 

It begins with forgiveness. Only through forgiveness can you begin to truly love yourself again.

No, not the abuser — yourself. It wasn't your fault, but sometimes it's hard to believe that. 

You can start with a weekly forgiveness ritual during which you are forgiving yourself for the things you did that you wish you hadn’t done. 

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The grudges we hold against ourselves work as barriers between the life we have and the life we want.

If we don’t feel worthy of our own forgiveness, it’s hard to feel worthy of the personal greatness that we desire, to achieve so we will either consciously or subconsciously hold ourselves at bay and block our aspirations.

Only through forgiveness can we find the path to realizing our own greatness.

Forgiveness is daring to feel worthy of the love you seek, giving up what you may have accepted as love in the past, especially if it was wrong for you.

Let’s face it, as humans, we are always going to make mistakes. But without mistakes, there can be no forgiveness, and without forgiveness, there can be no love. 

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Here are four exercises to help you forgive yourself for staying in a toxic or abusive situation

1. Give up the grievance right away

Swallow your pride and don’t waste your valuable energy dwelling on small wrongs done to you throughout the day. Say two positive affirmations every day with your hands on your heart, when you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.

Here are some examples, but make your affirmations personal, so that you can remember and repeat them whenever you need to bolster your self-worth. 

  • I am worthy because my past abusive relationship does not define me.
  • I'm worthy of being loved and respected. 
  • The best is yet to come. 

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2. Unload your backpack

Get rid of your hatreds and hurts before they congeal and petrify.

Talk to yourself in the mirror, talk to friends, a counselor, an empty chair, a stuffed animal, a movie star’s photo, or even a pet. Just get the old emotions out in the open.

Your anger can be constructive when properly channeled and constructively used to purge your pain.

Hold the person you’re angry with clearly in your mind. Then ask yourself, “What emotional shortcomings caused him or her to treat me badly?”

This is what you want to have compassion for, and it is also the reason to forgive.



3. Expand your forgiveness

Remember, forgiveness is not a one-time thing. You can forgive a person or situation again, if you do it quickly, rather than letting it fester.

4. Forgive yourself

Make it unconditional. Then let the situation go.

Forgive yourself to find inner peace by letting go of the past and looking to the future creating good new memories to wipe away old bad ones.

As the Dalai Lama says, “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”

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Forgiveness helps you regain control

To forgive somebody who isn’t sorry for their actions taken against us is so hard that I recommend turning the pent-up emotions of anger and pain into pity for the person’s emotionally cold heart.

When you hate someone, you give him or her control of your emotions. So, visualize opening your heart and then silently saying to that person, “I forgive you for everything you have done to hurt me.”

You do not even have to let anyone know about this. It's your business, no one else's.

That means forgiveness can be offered internally, with lasting healing benefits for our own hearts and lives.

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Dr. Ava Cadell is an author, clinical sexologist, sex counselor, and founder of Loveology University. Her mission is to empower people to overcome sexual guilt and shame so they can enjoy the benefits of healthy, sexual relationships.