The truth is, if you go through life, you are going to be hurt, at some point, by the words or actions of a friend, colleague, parent, sibling, or even stranger. When you are hurt by someone you love and trust you become bitter, resentful, and angry. Forgiveness is a commitment to change, move on, and be happy. By choosing to forgive, you embrace tranquility, joy, and gratitude. Forgiveness brings the peace you need to go on with your life. It is a sign of strength, not a weakness, and a long, deep process of the heart that purifies and releases.
You cannot go on with your life if you keep looking back. You cannot be the best version of yourself if you carry with you the burden of a bitter, angry, resentful soul. When you hold a grudge against someone, you allow a stressful situation to poison your life, which in turn makes you more susceptible to diseases, especially heart disease. You can’t enjoy the present and any of your relationships. You are so wrapped up in the pain that you become depressed and feel like your life lacks meaning and purpose.
When you forgive you let go of all the negative feelings and thoughts, and the stress that comes with them. You resolve to never let that happen again, you stop thinking about the person and situation, and focus on what really matters. You can relax, start sleeping better and improve your relationships with the people around you. You gain respect and admiration and you become a better person. You prove to yourself and to anyone around you that you have the power to control your life and that you choose not to be a victim of your own feelings. In fact, forgiving someone that hurt you is a gift you give to yourself.
Here are 4 simple but essential steps to forgiveness:
1. Accept and allow yourself to feel the pain. If you feel anger, humiliation, shame, guilt, and rage, let yourself feel the feeling. Don’t repress it. Don’t deny it. When you repress these feelings, you allow them to stick with you and you carry the pain of the betrayal with you. Everything you do from that point on is born from pain and anger. You see the world not as it really is, but through a filter of repressed pain, as you are inside. Allow yourself to feel the pain by talking to someone or writing in a journal, and release the negative emotions so you can think and feel clearly.
2. Understand the person that wronged you. Think about their past, their upbringing, past experiences, or present circumstances. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life. We all react according to our own reality, and if you just happen to be around someone with a wrong perception of reality, then they will attack you because they truly believe that you are wrong and you deserve to be attacked. That is the best they can do. They are stuck in their own pain.
3. Intentionally choose to forgive the person when you are ready. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone what happened in the past. It doesn’t mean the other person is right or that you absolve them from their responsibility. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or even reconciling with the person who hurt you. It just means that you choose to change your own attitude toward the hurt so that it doesn’t continue to wound you, and peacefully move on with your life. You don’t forgive someone because they deserve it, but because you deserve to be happy. Even if you feel hard to forgive someone who betrayed you, understand that it’s easier to forgive than to walk around carrying the burden of a resentful soul. As Carrie Fisher said: “Resentment is like drinking a poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
4. Move on and let go of grudges. Let it go. Release the sadness and the pain and stop living in the past. Don’t let your life be defined by how you’ve been hurt. Don’t allow rage and shame to control your life. Don’t dwell on feelings of guilt, frustration, blame, or regret, or obsess over your pain. Remember that if you dwell on the negative, you become negative toward everything around you. So choose to respond positively to what you encounter. Focus on your future. Put everything behind you and redirect your energy toward taking care of yourself in the future. Surround yourself with people who care about you, reconnect with your meaningful moments, and focus on all the things you are grateful for.
Learn to forgive so that you can be happy. In the end, forgiveness is not about the people that hurt you. It is about your healing, your strength, and your happiness.
Do you find it easy to forgive? How do you forgive even when it feels impossible? Let me know in the comments below.
For more tools and resources on happiness check out my Resources page.
Sheryl Craig Russell says
This is an issue my husband and I have been dealing with for several years. It took me a long time to realize what you have said….forgiving doesn’t mean you condone what they have done. It doesn’t mean you have to reconcile with them. I always felt that if I truly forgave them, things and relationships should return as they were before. Thank you for this post. I’m sure I’m not the only one that struggles with this.
You are not the only one! It’s so hard! Every day struggle for me.
Thank you, Sheryl. I’m glad you find my post useful. Sending you good vibes and a big hug! 🙂
Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com says
Hi Ana! I completely agree with everything you said here. It’s not easy to do but is a critical step for anyone who wants to find happiness. Even (and maybe most especially) when we think we deserve to be angry or upset about anyone or anything, that’s when it is most powerful. Thank you for the reminder! ~Kathy
Thank you for your kind words, Kathy.
#4 is anything but simple. It is a daily struggle for me. Some days are easier than others. I think you have to remember that forgiveness is for YOU not the other person!
I know what you mean! We need to forgive in order to be able to move on and be happy.
What a beautifully written post with so many excellent points. Forgiveness can be so hard to practice and I do think in some ways it gets harder as you get older but it is so important to move forward because holding on to that hurt doesn’t do anyone any good.
I totally agree with you! We need to move on and let go of grudges to be happy.
Miranda Knudtson says
I love the added quote by Ghandi–it is very hard! It’s so worth it to forgive someone because it gives you inner peace.
I’m glad you like the quote, Miranda! Have a sunny day!
Summer Telban (@SummerTelban) says
Love point #1 the most – how true. More people need to know it’s okay to feel and process what has happened.
We need to feel the feeling so we can let it go. Thanks for stopping by, Summer! 🙂
Forgiveness is so important in our walk with Christ. How can even entertain the thought of holding grudges or not forgiving someone when we remember what Christ did for us, and how He forgave us for everything we’ve done, are doing and will do. I am visiting you today from Blogging with Heart
You are so right, Jenn! No more grudges. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂
That New Girl says
Forgiveness is something I struggle with SO much. I don’t know if it’s because alot has happened in my younger years, and alot of people have hurt me without even as much as an apology. That’s the toughie for me, forgiving even though/when the person is nowhere near remorseful for what they did, or sometimes have no reason that they can say they did it.
This is a constant battle for me…Hoping that one day soon I get to a place where I can completely forgive. I have learnt with time that maybe those persons were projecting their personal pains, hurts and frustrations out on me, but even then, with that I sometimes wonder ‘what made ME the target though?”
You can’t change the past, but you can choose how you live your future. Make the choice to forgive and forget, so you can move on and be happy.
Kristin Cook says
It’s so true that we have to remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean that the person didn’t do anything wrong- it simply means that we are letting it go and showing them grace anyway.
It also means that we can move on and be happy again. Thanks for stopping by, Kristin! 🙂
Nine Cent Girl says
I can’t tell you how many times I have read or heard this same message but I can also tell you that I have been struggling with this very topic… thank you for the 4 steps. Perhaps I need to start with #1. xxoo
I know it is not easy to forgive, but do it for yourself and move on. You deserve it! xoxo 🙂