There’s a slate of articles available online, in books, and in therapists’ offices about how to apologize and make amends when you’ve hurt someone. But what about how to forgive? Forgiveness doesn’t come easily in the best of circumstances, and even when someone has apologized and tried to make amends it can still be incredibly difficult. Without an apology, it can seem impossible. Here are some guidelines to help you forgive, regardless of what the person who has hurt you is doing:
Talk It Out
While not always possible, if the option of talking to the person who hurt you is available, this is one of the very best things you can do to help yourself move on and repair the relationship if at all possible. Rather than attack the other person, focus on talking through your hurt and offering suggestions for what might make you feel better. Be warned that the other person may not be responsive, but this is not the goal; the goal is for you to be able to vocalize your feelings.
Resolve to Forgive
This sounds much simpler than it actually is. So often when we are hurt, we wear our hurt like a badge of honor and use the harm committed against us as a weapon in arguments. The first step in forgiving anyone is acknowledging you want to forgive, and abandoning practices like itemizing complaints that prevent you from forgiving. You may not feel like you’ve forgiven yet, but by resolving to do so, you’re taking a powerful step in the right direction.
We’ve all harmed people in our lives, but it can be easy to slip into vilifying and hating another person. Rather than turn the person who has hurt you into a monster, empathize with them and think of times you have hurt people. Recognize that we’re all human and we all make mistakes.
Find The Positive
No matter how big or small the crime committed against us, there is almost always someone who steps into help us or a lesson we learn from it. Look for the positive and be grateful for the friends and family who supported you or the valuable lessons you learned from the hurt you suffered.
Gain Some Perspective
Carrying a grudge doesn’t harm the person who hurt you; it hurts you. By choosing to remain angry, you are harming yourself. We’ve all heard the expression, “The Best revenge is living well”, but this is profoundly true. By refusing to forgive, you harm yourself, so offer forgiveness not as a gift to the person who harmed you, but as a gift to yourself.