Sometimes we are deeply hurt by the people we care about, or even by people we aren’t really close to. But either way, we tend to carry that resentment for a really long time…
How is that any good?
Carrying grudges damages only the emotional health of the person holding the grudge, not the other way around. Heck, maybe even the other person has long forgotten why you are so mad about and has carried on with their daily life and you won’t even know it. It happens. And most of the times, it’s really infuriating. How dare he/she forget what he/she did to me, when it has been eating me alive for days/weeks/months/years?
Well, if the other person has already moved on, don’t you think it’s time for you to do so as well? No matter how big or small the problem may be, it’s always better to forgive —not for the sake of the other person, or whatever reason you may think about, but for yourself. After all, by forgiving, you let go of your grievances and judgments and allow yourself to heal.
But sometimes we think that by forgiving someone we…
- Are excusing or accepting that what he/she did was right.
- Have to tell the other person they are forgiven.
- Should have to forget about the issue.
- Are accepting that everything is okay between us and the other person.
- Should forget that the incident ever happened.
- Have to continue your relationship with the other person as it had been before.
…and that’s not it. By forgiving, you are accepting the reality of what happened and finding a way to live in a state of resolution with it. This can be a gradual process—and it doesn’t necessarily have to include the person you are forgiving.
What makes it so hard to forgive is that sometimes, we still have many thoughts regarding the issue. We may be filled with the need for revenge, or enjoy feeling superior over the other person because of the incident and their regret, or you don’t know how to resolve the situation, or the anger gives you a sense of adrenaline and a rush you’re not used to, or you may be afraid that by forgiving you would have to go back the way you were with that person —or lose them entirely. First you gotta think why you’re having these feelings, and ask yourself if you are willing to let them go.
After all, forgiveness requires feeling willing to forgive. Sometimes you won’t, because the hurt went too deep, or because the person was too abusive, or expressed no regret. You should never forgive before you have come to terms with your feelings, and released all your anger and pain.
Think about what happened, and accept it. How it made you feel, how you reacted… you have to acknowledge what ocurred and how you were affected. Then ask yourself what you learned from the incident. You may have learned more about yourself, your needs and boundaries. After that, try to understand that there’s not a single person that is perfect. We are heavily influenced by our beliefs, the people around us, where we come from. Every action has a cause, try to think about what caused the action, because every action meets a need. This will help you understand the other person better. And finally, decide whether or not you will tell the other person that you have forgiven him/her. Either way, try saying it aloud, even if you decide against telling them. This will help you come to terms and give it closure.
Forgiveness puts the final seal on what happened that hurt you. You will still remember what happened, but you will no longer be bound by it. Having worked through the feelings and learned what you need to do to strengthen your boundaries or get your needs met, you are better able to take care of yourself in the future.
Forgiving the other person is a wonderful way to honor yourself. It affirms to the universe that you deserve to be happy.