Forgiveness is hard. We know that for a fact, and so does everyone who’s been hurt by someone else. But the most important thing to remember is that forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re forgetting what happened or letting the other person off easy. Instead, it means taking control of your own emotions so you can move on with your life and live without anger, resentment, or sadness weighing you down. To do so, you need to embark on the road to forgiveness and get that weight off your shoulders. That said, here are ten steps to take when forgiving someone who hurt you.
Make the decision to forgive them
This could be the most challenging part, especially if they’ve done something genuinely unforgivable to you or someone close to you. You may have a lot of reasons for not wanting to forgive them: maybe what they did was terrible, or perhaps there’s still a chance that this person will do it again in the future – but even then, holding onto those feelings is only hurting yourself more than anyone else ever could.
Forgiving someone does not make what happened okay, nor should it exonerate the other person from responsibility for their actions. It may seem like it’s too soon to forgive them or that you’re not ready yet, but if you can find a way – and it is possible – then that means the moment is right for forgiveness. So don’t worry about timing; just be honest with yourself about how much time has passed since their hurtful act occurred and whether or not you feel ready to let go of your rage towards them yet.
Establish what you want from the forgiveness
Before you can forgive someone, it’s essential to know your goals for doing so. What is the exact outcome that you hope will come from forgiving them? For example: do you want to be able to move on with your life and focus on other things besides this person who hurt you? Do you want a better relationship with them in the future, or are they out of your life entirely now? Is there something specific that inspired forgiveness (it could have been seeing their remorse or knowing how much pain they were going through after hurting you)? Establishing these outcomes ahead of time will help keep track of whether or not they’re being met over time.
Once those questions have been answered, write down all of the things that you want forgiveness to accomplish for you. Finding clarity on what exactly it is that you’re trying to achieve will help keep your perspective in check and ensure that the outcome of forgiving them truly brings peace into your life, rather than burdening yourself with new stressors or heartache. Your goals may change over time as well – which is perfectly okay! Write down all of these changes so they can be taken into consideration when attempting to forgive someone.
Forgiveness is meant to be personal; it’s a way of giving yourself some peace and allowing you the chance to move forward with your own life – which means that you don’t have time for being spiteful or holding grudges, especially if they’re only hurting you more than the other person in question! Think about what would make YOU feel better after all. Forgiving someone else does NOT mean forgetting or excusing their behavior; it means releasing yourself from the pain and anger they’ve caused you – so think about how YOU would like to feel after forgiving them.
Your mental health is important too! After all, if your goal for forgiving someone was as simple as wanting to move past something to live a happier life without having resentment hold you back, then are those really selfish reasons? Or feelings worth fighting for?
If possible, try and see their side of the story, too. Maybe they weren’t in the right state of mind when their actions happened, or maybe there was something else going on that you don’t know about? After all, it’s easier to forgive someone after understanding why they did what they did – even if it doesn’t excuse them from taking responsibility for their mistakes!
Have the conversation, or don’t
At this point, you’ve hopefully established your needs and goals for forgiveness. You’re ready to forgive them – but what exactly does that look like? Do you want to speak with them personally in an attempt to resolve the issue between the two of you once and for all? Or would it be easier (and more healthy) if they stayed out of your life, so there was no risk of another conflict occurring down the line? Maybe writing a letter or email is better than speaking face-to-face after all.
Remember: forgiveness doesn’t always have to mean resolving things right away; sometimes it’s enough just knowing how much weight has been lifted off from their side as well! In these cases, think about what would help you feel better after giving this person another chance to prove themselves (i.e., a public apology, or maybe an explanation of what they plan to do differently next time?). If the thought of speaking with them makes your heart race out of fear and dread, then it might be best for everyone involved if these attempts were made through other means – but whatever works for YOU is most important.
Stop talking about the event that led to the disagreement
Forgiving someone for hurting you doesn’t mean forgetting that it ever happened – but now, your goal is to move past the negative emotions associated with this event. An easy way to do this? Stop bringing it up! Once these feelings are gone, there’s no reason why they need to be brought into every conversation and/or interaction again if there isn’t a new lesson or positive takeaway from doing so. If you can bring yourself to actually forget about what happened between you and them ultimately (which may seem impossible right now), then congratulations: forgiveness has been achieved in its most pure form.
After forgiving someone, you might find that things between the two of you are better than ever before – and maybe they even changed for the better based on their experiences with this pain! But if not, it’s okay to decide after a certain point (and time) in which having them back in your life is more harmful than helpful. After all, no one should have power over how you feel – so make sure you’re putting yourself first when deciding whether someone should be in your life, and to what degree after you’ve forgiven them.