How to Forgive Someone
Learning how to forgive someone can be a difficult process. You might think about this person every day and can’t seem to shake the down feeling that they gave you.
Forgiveness is part of the healing process, and you must accept it if you want to change how you feel. Ahead, we’ll give you some tips on how to forgive someone, as well as some elements you should consider along the road to forgiveness.
Keep the Following in Mind
A lot of people tend to think that forgiveness is something you’re granting another person. They believe that forgiveness means you’re moving past a wrong and developing a relationship past that.
While this can sometimes be the case, it doesn’t have to be. You don't forgive someone else for their sake you’re doing it for yourself. Keep the following in mind when you’re struggling to forgive another person. You might be confused about what forgiveness really means.
Don’t Keep Them in Your Life
Just because you forgive someone does not mean you have to have a continuing relationship with them. You can forgive them and move on.
More than anything, forgiveness is about giving you peace of mind, not them. It’s about moving past the situation and preventing it from further affecting your life story.
You Don’t Have to Tell Them
You don’t have to face the person who wronged you and tell them that you forgive them. In many cases, doing this could make the situation even worse. After all, the person who hurt you might not even fully understand what they did.
Again, forgiveness is for yourself, not them. Telling the other person that you forgave them will only serve to make them feel better when you still might have strong feelings about the situation.
You Don’t Have to be Over it
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’ll never stop thinking about what went wrong. It doesn’t indicate that you’re completely over the wrongs either. All forgiveness means is that you’re taking steps to put your life back in order. You will stop letting this slight control the way you think.
Talk With Someone Else
Discussing the situation with someone else is one of the paths that will lead you to forgiveness. For a lot of people, hearing the story told out loud is enough to pull the weight off of their shoulders. It’s a brief release of a burden and can be the first step on the path toward forgiveness.
When the slight is great enough, though, hearing yourself retell the story might not do you any favors. You might get all worked up and angry again when you start thinking about it, which could be a bit counterproductive when you’re trying to practice forgiveness.
Either way, talking to another person about the situation can give you some clarity, even if you start getting angry. Those who are close to us have a unique perspective on these issues, and can often provide us with advice we never considered.
Leave the Situation Alone
Try to take a step back from the situation if you find yourself constantly dwelling on another person’s actions. This advice can be difficult to follow at times especially if the person who wronged you was a significant other.
It can be incredibly hard to try to spend a day or two without thinking about the action that has sent you on a negative path, but it’s necessary if you want to learn how to forgive someone. You need space, and dwelling on something will only cause it to continue to chip away at your emotions.
If you regularly see the person you want to forgive, try to get away from them. Every situation is difficult, and this isn’t always possible, but try to take a break if you can. This is especially true if you’re trying to forgive a significant other for something they’ve done. Take some time off, and see if you can continue the relationship when you come back with fresh eyes.
Write About it
Stephen King once said, “I write to find out what I think.” Writing can be extremely cathartic, especially if you’re writing to yourself about your own feelings. You won’t show this to anyone, but you’ll put your ideas on paper and discover more about your own feelings.
Writing forces your brain to put feelings into words. You might not think about it too often, but it takes a bit of effort to translate emotions into something you can express. In fact, you might not even understand your own feelings until you put them into words.
Write what you feel, then read it back to yourself. See what you think, and make some small changes to perfect what you want to say. You will have a better understanding of your own mind, how you processed something and the root cause of why you’re so angry with someone.
If you choose to confront the other person, this writing will help you as well. A lot of the time, we think we want to say all of these things to someone to get them off of our chest. Writing them out will give you clarity, and may provide the relief you didn’t expect to find.
Consider What You Learned
Taking a positive out of a negative is a step in the right direction. Some will say that there’s always a silver lining in bad events. This isn’t universally true, but somewhere along the line, your silver lining will present itself.
Either way, you can probably find something that you learned from the situation, no matter how harmful it might be. Reframing adverse actions as learning experiences is a good way to begin to forgive. We are all here to learn and adapt, so there’s always something to take away from a situation.
Once you find this silver lining, you will naturally start to forgive the person who wronged you. After all, without that action, you wouldn’t be the same person you are today.
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Think of the Other Person
You might not be inclined to think about the situation from the other person’s perspective, but doing so might help you get a better understanding of the situation. Not all stories have two sides, but most do. If you feel betrayed or wronged, consider what the other person was thinking or going through at the time.
You don’t have to agree or even empathize with another person’s perspective, but it’s important to at least understand what was going on. Think about a time when you wronged someone else. None of us are saints, and you likely have a few wrongdoings of your own in your past.
While this tip might not give you immediate relief, it will chip-away at your pain over time. You can begin to forgive someone once you understand why they did what they did to you.
Don’t Blame Yourself
Forgiving yourself can often be harder than forgiving another person. At the end of the day, you’re stuck with your internal monologue while another person can live blissfully ignorant of the pain they’ve caused you.
A lot of the time, we blame ourselves when something goes wrong in our lives. We should have known better, we shouldn’t have trusted someone, or we shouldn’t have done something else. Don’t think this way; nothing positive will come of it.
Accept that the past is the past. You can’t change what has already happened, and beating yourself up about it will only make things worse. Be happy with who you are, and accept that all you can do is move forward with a positive attitude.
Think About Letting the Other Person Know
You don’t always have to talk to the person who caused you pain, but it can help in some situations. This tip is particularly useful if you’re trying to learn how to forgive someone who doesn’t know what they did was wrong.
A lot of the times, someone can significantly hurt you without ever knowing it. You might think some terrible things about that person, but they never truly know what they did to upset you.
Consider letting the other person know what’s going on in your head. If they understand what you’re upset about, they might be able to help you forgive.
Recognize the Process
Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t decide to forgive someone and magically stop hating or caring for them. It’s essential to understand that forgiveness is a process, and you might not reach the end for some time.
Some people can get over slights without much time. Others need years to cool off before they can forgive someone. Don’t chastise yourself for caring that someone wronged you; you have every right to be angry.
You are doomed to fall into a cycle of passive-aggressive thinking if you try to force yourself to forgive someone. Instead, allow yourself to be mad. Let yourself hate another person for a bit, then come out of it the other side and start healing.