Forgiveness is an idea that many of us struggle with—some forgive too quickly, while others maintain grudges that drag them down.
While everybody must choose to forgive on his or her own timeline, it’s crucial that we all establish a healthy relationship with the concept of forgiveness.
These 5 tips will allow you to feel more comfortable and confident about your ability to forgive.
Tip #1: Reframe Your Definition of Forgiveness
Many people are under the wrong impression about what forgiveness entails. So that you’re clear, forgiveness is not:
- Saying you condone that person’s behavior
- Undermining the effect that action/behavior had on you
- Pretending nothing happened
- Continuing to include the person in your life – at all or to the same extent as before
- For anybody except yourself
- Allowing yourself the energy to focus on other things
- Not dwelling on the past incident
- Recognizing the hurt and moving forward
- Realizing you deserve happiness instead of harboring resentment
- Acknowledging the wrongdoings and growing from them
- Something you do for yourself because you deserve peace
Tip #2: Seek to Understand the Other Person’s Viewpoint
When somebody wrongs you, it can feel especially hurtful because that’s never something you would do to them.
So, in order to truly forgive somebody, you need to take into consideration their situation. When you know their background, you might gather more information about why they acted the way they did.
For example, maybe you’re harboring resentment towards your parents. It’s vital that you reflect on their past and upbringing. Consider that they are a product of their environment, just like you are a product of yours. This doesn’t excuse their actions, but it allows you to be more empathetic and understanding.
Tip #3: Write a Letter That You Won’t Send
You are entitled to feel every emotion in the book—sadness, anger, fury, disappointment, etc. But instead of letting these feelings fester, it’s helpful to express them.
Writing a letter to the person who wronged you is a great way to get all of your negative emotions out of your head. When you write your letter, detail all of your feelings, be raw, and don’t hold anything back. This letter will give you the opportunity to honor and unleash your feelings without “taking them out” on somebody else inappropriately.
Of course, this isn’t a letter that should be sent, but it can be a good frame of reference if you do choose to confront the person you’re forgiving.
Tip #4: Remember That We’re All Human
Just like you’re a human with flaws and mistakes, so is the person that hurt you. Chances are, they probably feel bad about what they did.
If this is a relationship that you want to repair, discuss the situation with the person who you’d like to forgive. They may not even recognize that they’ve done something wrong. Harboring a grudge isn’t fair to you or to them.
If this isn’t a relationship you want to save, that’s completely okay as well. You can still forgive the person by realizing that they, like you, are human. The damage they did may be irreparable, but you can still extend forgiveness in order to maintain your own peace of mind.
Tip #5: Set Your Own Timeline
One of the things that makes forgiveness so daunting is that people assume there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to do it. While we’ve considered a list of suggestions, forgiveness is unique to each person. You’re allowed to personalize the pace of your forgiveness timeline.
Depending on the situation, it may take you a long time to establish a “normal” relationship with that person again. Or you may express forgiveness and forgo an ongoing relationship.
You have the prerogative to set the tone and ease and handle the relationship the way you feel safest. Don’t feel pressured to jump back into anything or forgive before you are ready.
Always remember that when you forgive, it should be a gift to yourself. You deserve the peace and serenity that accompanies forgiveness and letting go of the past.
Meeting with a trained therapist can help you effectively deal with forgiveness. Please call me at 949-760-7171 or text 949-244-8572 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to schedule an appointment.