Forgiveness is freedom. It’s the greatest gift you can give yourself. You will be free of resentment, bitterness, and anger and free to live and love fully again.
Forgiveness is simply accepting what happened in the past and not letting it destroy your present. It’s a beautiful thing.
Some people struggle with forgiveness. They want to cling to past hurts — which in reality hurts only them, as the offender may have moved on and isn’t even troubled by the situation any more.
People lose huge chunks of their lives being angry and holding on to grudges, when all they need to do is forgive, or as Disney’s Princess Elsa sings, “Let It Go,” and as Taylor Swift sings, “Shake It Off.”
Steps to Forgiveness
If you’re having trouble knowing how to forgive, here are some tips on how to begin the process of forgiveness:
- Commit to forgive.
- Make the decision and do it.
- Forgiveness is for you, not for anyone else.
- Don’t replay grievances and hurts over and over in your head.
- Clear your mind of the negativity.
- Accept that you cannot change the past and you cannot change the person.
- Know that forgiveness does not mean you have to say anything to the offender.
- You don’t have to apologize to him or her.
- Understand that forgiveness does not mean reconciliation.
- You two may never get along.
- But with forgiveness, you are no longer resentful, bitter or angry; you let it go.
- Avoid taking things personally.
- Most people are clueless in how they hurt others and often have little idea of the impact they have had.
- Don’t give them that space in your head.
- Focus on the present and what’s good and positive in your life.
- Write those things down and check the list regularly.
- Recognize the stages in the forgiveness process:
- Begin with anger
- Move to sadness
- Progress to resignation
- End with peace
- Feel compassion for the offender and wish happiness for him or her.
- You know you are at the stage of full forgiveness when you can do this.
For more on this topic and similar ones, please see Living WELL Aware E-Learning Course by Patricia Sulak, MD.