Forgiving people who’ve hurt you can be hard. Granting forgiveness can seem impossible at first, depending on the infraction and harm done. However, it’s important to remember that forgiveness is mainly for you. When you don’t forgive someone, you’re holding on to the anger, resentment, and pain the other person caused you, which doesn’t benefit you in the long run. Forgiveness is the only thing that relieves you from the painful trauma you might’ve endured so that you can move forward. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone the incident or that the person who hurt you shouldn’t take accountability; it’s more about reclaiming your power to make the conscious choice to untether yourself from the pain and stress they’ve caused.
While it may be a challenge at first, forgiveness can be an opportunity for you to do some self-exploration to understand how you handle conflict and to see if you’d like to mend or repair certain relationships. Forgiveness should be about releasing toxic grudges to continue to thrive. Here are several ways to practice forgiveness, even when you don’t want to.
Address your pain: The road to forgiveness is bumpy but starts with acknowledging the hurt and wrongdoing. To forgive, you should analyze what exactly happened and the part you might’ve played in the situation. From there, you’ll understand how you’d like to move forward.
Name your feelings: If you cannot address the person directly due to anger, sadness, or anxiety, try speaking to a trusted loved one or professional about your feelings. In those private discussions, start to name your feelings (sad, hurt, angry, disappointed, betrayed.)
Let it out: Sometimes, it helps to cry or scream to express your emotions, especially if you notice yourself shutting down and cannot communicate with anyone.
Practice patience: Forgiveness is tough and nuanced. Give yourself grace by practicing patience. You’re allowed to not speak to the person who hurt you right away to protect yourself, but you should forgive them for your mental health and emotional well-being.
Expand your mindset: Try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Did you do something that might’ve hurt them as well? It’s best to view things from different perspectives to try to receive some understanding.
Create a timeline for forgiveness: Start by taking small steps before confronting the person. Write a letter about your pain, use a visualization practice to transport yourself back to when you were hurt, address the moment, and ask yourself when the right time would be to let go of the pain.