In this step-by-step forgiveness guide, you’ll learn pretty much everything you need to know about the power of forgiveness, why it’s important, and why letting go leads to a more fulfilled and happier life.
What Is Forgiveness?
Think of forgiveness as a journey of coming to terms with an unpleasant or hurtful experience. Once you’re able to come to terms with the hurt you will also come to the realization that the only person you were really hurting with your anger and resentment was yourself.
Forgiveness is both an act and a process. It involves two or more people and there usually has to be a previous incident that requires or deserves forgiveness. The interesting thing is that you might think that forgiveness is all about the other person. Perhaps you’re mad, angry, disappointed, or sad at something that someone said or did to you. Eventually, you might get to the point where you forgive that person but more likely than not it’ll be a process that will take time.
When you reach the point where you can forgive and move on something truly amazing happens. You realize that the only person you were really hurting by hanging on to that anger was you. This step-by-step forgiveness guide is really all about you. It’s about giving you permission to let go and move on.
Easier said than done though, right?
Forgiving starts with the deliberate act of deciding to let go of the resentment you’re feeling. Once you make that conscious decision, then you can start the process of forgiving. The way you make that happen is to continually forgive until you are truly over the anger, hurt, and pain. Then, you may find, you’re able to forget, or at least not be consumed by the memory.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you condone what they’ve done to hurt you in the first place. Neither does it mean that you suddenly agree with what they’ve done or take on their point of view. Instead, forgiveness is about giving you the peace of mind to move on and get on with the rest of your life. While this may involve reconciliation with the person you’ve forgiven, that isn’t necessary. Forgiveness really is all about you and for you to come to terms with a bad experience so you can get past it. Forgiveness is a very powerful ability and one well worth exploring.
3 Reasons Why Forgiveness Is Important
Forgiveness is a skill worth learning and improving upon. It’s a lot more about you than the other person and there are some very good reasons why you should be forgiving. Here are three of the main reasons why forgiveness is so important.
It Gives You Strength
As mentioned, forgiveness isn’t about letting someone off the hook. It’s more about coming to terms with an event or an experience to the point where you can let go and find peace. It’s about releasing the anger and resentment that are holding you back and making you miserable.
Forgiving someone doesn’t make you weak. It shows strength. It takes a lot to forgive and getting to that point is an important part of the healing process. Don’t ever think of forgiveness as weakness. It takes strength and knowing you can forgive and move on shows you just how strong you are and how far you’ve come.
It Gives You Peace
Holding a grudge takes a lot of mental energy. And it’s negative energy that drains you and leaves you feeling stressed and depressed. In other words, being angry and resentful isn’t good for you or your mental well-being.
Forgiving on the other hand changes all that. The more you forgive, the more at peace you will feel. Start small if you have to, but make it a habit to forgive. Once you start to experience the peace of mind forgiving the other person gives you, you’ll be encouraged to forgive more and more often. All it takes is one small step to start. You can do this.
It Allows You To Be Happy Again
Once you get to that place of forgiveness and peace something amazing happens. A big weight lifts off your shoulders, the sadness and anger start to melt away and you find that you have room in your heart and your mind to be happy again.
While being angry and holding on to a grudge for a long time can lead to depression and all sorts of health issues caused by stress, letting go and forgiving does the exact opposite. It helps you let go, relax, distress and start to feel better about yourself and your life. Forgiveness is a powerful thing and something that’s a lot more about you and what it does for you and your well-being than it is for the other person. Start forgiving and let happiness back into your life. It’s well worth it – I promise.
The Most Important Lesson
Forgiving someone who has hurt you can be a very hard thing, possibly one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It will also be one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself and in the process, you’ll learn the most important lesson you need to learn about forgiveness.
That lesson is that forgiveness really isn’t about the other person, it’s all about you. As much as you’d like to think that holding a grudge and thinking badly about the other person is hurting them, that’s not usually the case. You hold on to the hurt and the anger, wanting revenge. You want to lash out and let the other person feel how hurt you are. You hold all that pain inside and as it turns out, the only person you’re hurting by refusing to forgive and let go is yourself.
That’s right; the one paying the price is YOU. The other person isn’t feeling the anger and pain. Heck, chances are they aren’t wasting another thought on what happened. They moved on, they are living their life, and they are happily oblivious of the pain they are causing you.
Yet you feel like you have to hang on to that pain, you have to hold the grudge all so the other person doesn’t “win”. Somehow forgiveness feels weak and it seems that if you forgive and move on, you’re giving the other person a pass. But here’s the thing. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re letting them get away with something. It doesn’t mean that what happened didn’t happen and the slate is wiped clean and it certainly doesn’t mean that you condone and agree with what they’ve done.
It simply means that you’re ready to move on. You need to forgive so you can get past this. You forgive so you can start to heal. You forgive so you are no longer bound to this other person. You forgive so you can become happy again and focus on the rest of your life.
It’s not going to be easy, forgiveness never is. The greater your pain, the harder the act of forgiving will be. But it is well worth it and not because it makes you a better person (it does), or because it’s the right thing to do (it is), but because it will free you and help you much more than the other person in the long run. Be the stronger person, do the right thing, and practice forgiveness. You’ll be glad you did when that weight lifts off your shoulders, the wounds start to heal, and you get to experience the sweetest revenge of them all – living a long and happy life without wasting another thought on the other person or the bad things that happened.
Forgiveness Is A Process
We called this a step-by-step forgiveness guide because forgiving isn’t something on a list that you tick off. It’s a process. Even after you’ve said the words and made up, there may still be a simmering suspicion or resentment lurking in the background. Forgiving sounds like such a simple act, doesn’t it? You make up your mind to forgive and it is done. Forgiving someone for the wrong they’ve done and the hurt they’ve caused isn’t easy. And it’s not something you can expect to forgive and forget in a few minutes.
Instead, choosing to forgive is a decision you make once and then the process of forgiving begins. What it boils down to is that forgiveness is a healing process and just like a cut on your finger takes time to heal, so does the mental pain. As you move through the process of forgiveness, don’t be surprised if you lapse back into old feelings of anger and resentment. It’s normal and it’s ok to have those feelings. Part of the process is reminding yourself again and again that you are choosing forgiveness.
An important part of that process is to realize that forgiving doesn’t mean that the other person wins or that you condone what they’ve done. Instead, it means that you choose to forgive so you can move on. And that’s a decision you’ll make over and over again until it sticks.
Yes, it’s a process, yes, it’s hard. But it is well worth the effort. The good news is that as in so many other areas of our lives practice does make perfect. The more you practice forgiveness, the better you get at it and the easier it becomes. Making the decision to forgive is an important first step. Letting go of the anger and the hurt is another step. From there, each following step as you remind yourself daily why you are choosing to forgive becomes easier. You start to heal and it will become easier yet.
At the end of this process, there is peace of mind and a chance to move on to happier days. Remember, forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to like and trust the other person. Instead, you forgive them so they don’t have a hold over you anymore. Forgiveness is all about you and it’s an important part of your healing process.
Take that first step. Choose to forgive and start your own process of forgiveness. After all, what’s the alternative? Holding on to a lot of pain and anger? Guess what… that pain and anger doesn’t hurt the person it’s directed at. They’ve moved on and chances are they are no longer even thinking about this. The only person you’re hurting by withholding forgiveness is you.
Why Is Forgiveness So Hard?
Every major religion teaches its believers that they should practice forgiveness. We’re also taught about forgiveness when we are children. It’s an important part of living in a community with other people. It should be something that comes easily to us, something that’s second nature like making friends and finding love. Yet forgiveness is hard and it continues to be hard throughout our lives.
Part of it may be that you are hard-wired to retaliate. You want to get even, so you hold on to that anger without realizing that the main person you’re hurting is yourself. Forgiveness also requires us to let go of our pride and that’s never easy. It feels like by forgiving you show weakness and give the other person an “out”. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. It takes a lot of strength to forgive and the act of forgiveness itself gives us a lot of strength and pride in return.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the other person is no longer responsible for what they did. It doesn’t mean that you condone their behavior or the hurtful words they said. It simply means that you choose to free yourself from the pain and anger this situation is causing you. It means that you give yourself permission to move on and heal.
Let’s look at it from the flipside. We all do and say things that can be hurtful. We all make mistakes. Not one of us is perfect. I’m sure you can think of quite a few things right now that you aren’t proud of. I’m sure there are quite a few people out there who have forgiven you for hurtful things you’ve said and done.
While I’m sure you’ve felt bad in most of those situations, I’m sure you’ve also forgiven yourself and moved on. I’m also sure you would like these people to forgive you. You probably didn’t mean half of what you said. It’s easy to lash out and be hurtful in the heat of the moment. We all get angry. It happens. If you would like others to forgive you, doesn’t it make sense then for you to forgive as well?
Keep that in mind as you work your way towards forgiving others. Yes, it can be hard to let go of the pain, but keep in mind that you’re not letting the other person off the hook. You forgive, but it doesn’t mean that their words and actions didn’t hurt. It simply means that you’re ready to move on and heal. In the end, you’ll find that while forgiving is hard, it’s well worth it in the end and you will end up feeling a lot better and happier for having done it.
The Hardest Form of Forgiveness
You are likely to be your own harshest critic and toughest judge. It’s not easy to forgive and it’s even harder to forgive yourself when you know you’ve done or said something wrong. The good news is that it can be done and if you follow the advice below, you’ll be well on your way to forgiving yourself.
Start By Asking For Forgiveness
Nine times out of ten you do something that involves and hurts another person. Before you can start to forgive yourself, you should ask that person for forgiveness. Make up for what you did, set things right, and then ask them to forgive you. It’s a powerful thing that will help both of you move on.
Vow To Do Better In The Future
Next, it’s important to make sure you won’t do the same thing again. Forgiveness is meaningless if you just turn around and do it again. At the same time, by thinking about what you did and how you can be better in the future, you’re taking a big step towards forgiving yourself.
Facing your own mistakes and shortcomings isn’t easy. Take your time, work through it, and look at it as a learning opportunity. Until you face your faults and figure out what you can do better, you can’t learn and grow as a human being. Take that opportunity and make it count.
Repent and Atone
Yes, this sounds very Christian and medieval, but there’s something to be said for atonement. It’s much easier to forgive yourself when you feel like you’ve paid a price for what you’ve done. Asking for forgiveness and vowing to do better in the future may be part of that, but sometimes you need to take things a step further.
Do something nice for the person you’ve hurt. What you do and how you do it will vary from situation to situation. Do what you can to set things right or at least make things better for the person you’ve hurt.
It’s also important to realize that the person you’ve hurt may not ready to forgive and move on. That’s ok. Respect their space and their pain. Instead, go out and do something nice for someone else. Go help out in your community, run some errands for an elderly neighbor, be kind to a stranger. Do something nice to balance out the negative things you’ve done. Trust me, even if you can’t help the person you’ve hurt, you’ll feel better for it.
Last but not least be there when the other person is ready for forgiveness. Don’t expect to have the slate wiped clean. Take responsibility for what you did and at that point do what you can to make things right. Most importantly acknowledge the forgiveness and thank the person for it. This is as much for their benefit as yours.
Things That Can Help You Forgive
Prayer And Forgiveness
Let’s start by looking at how prayers can play a positive role in forgiveness. Prayers are our way of talking to a higher entity. It’s a way to let it all out, share what has happened and know, without a shadow of a doubt that there’s a kind ear on the other end.
Prayers can help us be heard, without being judged. There is someone out there who understands your pain and loves you unconditionally. That same entity also forgives no matter what. All you have to do is ask for it. You may feel guilt for holding on to the hurt and anger but He forgives and leads by example. Prayers can help us come to terms with our anger and by following His example; you can find our own path to forgiveness.
Meditating To Help You Forgive
Meditation is an ancient practice that helps us clear our minds and helps us let go of our emotions. Meditation brings us peace of mind and that allows us to see both sides of the story. That alone makes it much easier for us to forgive the other person.
Mediation is also a great way to strengthen our minds and spirit. It helps us become better, stronger people. It helps us develop into the type of person that can forgive and move on. Of course, experiencing the peace of mediation where you let go of your pain and anger, also makes you want to feel that way in everyday life and forgiveness is your path to that peace of mind.
Gratefulness Can Put Things In The Right Light
Last but not least, let’s talk about practicing gratefulness. Being grateful is very powerful, particularly when done with intention. During your prayers and your meditations, think about everything you have to be grateful for. Trust me, it’s hard to hold on to a grudge when you’re remembering all the wonderful things in your life. Being grateful for everything and every one good you have in your life makes it easy to forgive others.
Grudges Hurt You
Holding a grudge when you know someone has done you wrong feels so good, doesn’t it? It feels powerful, and it gives you a feeling of control. The problem is that feeling of power and control is deceiving. Holding a grudge doesn’t give you the upper hand, instead, it keeps you trapped emotionally. It keeps you from moving on and finding your way back to peace and happiness. And that isn’t a good thing.
That grudge isn’t hurting the person you’re lashing out to in your mind. They don’t suffer because you’re feeling angry and resentful. Quite the contrary. Chances are that they’ve moved on and forgotten all about the incident. They are living their life, going about their day, enjoying what they are doing. The only person that is being hurt by holding on to that grudge is you. It’s about time to change that, don’t you think?
If being angry and holding a grudge ends up hurting you, what can you do to get over it? The answer to that is deceivingly simple, yet not all that easy to do – the answer is forgiveness. Yes, that’s right. You need to forgive the other person so you can move on as well. As I said, it’s simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. Forgiving someone for a wrong they’ve done is easier said than done.
Start by being honest with yourself and realizing that this grudge is only hurting you. That realization will help you move towards forgiveness and moving on with your life. Next, it’s a good idea to acknowledge the pain you’re feeling. That anger and resentment you’re feeling aren’t born out of thin air. Instead, it comes from being hurt. Acknowledge the pain and you will notice that the anger slowly starts to melt away.
If you can, consider having a conversation with the person that hurt you. That might not always be an option, but if it is, give it a try. You may find that the other party didn’t mean to hurt you and had no idea how much pain they had caused you. Having that open dialog can do a lot of good. If that isn’t an option – either because you’re not ready, or because the other person is convinced they are in the right, have that conversation in your head. Look at things from both sides and see if you can understand where the other person is coming from. Having that perspective will also help with forgiveness.
Last but not least, don’t feel like you’re weak, or that you’re letting the other person get away with something when you forgive. Forgiveness is for and about you. It’s to help you let go of the anger and move on. It doesn’t mean that you condone what they did, it simply means that you choose to move on and move past it. And that my friend is a truly powerful move, much more so than holding on to a grudge that only harms you.
Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It has the power to make your life better. When you learn to forgive others for the wrongs they’ve done you, you can move on, get past the hurt and find your way back to peace and happiness. If you don’t practice forgiveness, on the other hand, it’s easy to turn into an angry, unhappy person. Holding grudges and being mad all the time, can lead to depression, stress, and with that a slew of health issues. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I want for the people I love. Instead, I want my kids, my spouse, my family, and my friends to be happy, healthy people who know how to forgive.
The best way to do just that is to set an example and practice forgiveness yourself. The good news is that most of the time, this will be very easy to do. Forgiving someone you love isn’t hard. When you value the relationship and have a good relationship to begin with, it’s much easier to see the other side of the story. You understand why the other person lashed out. You may not condone it, but you understand what caused it and where they are coming from. Having this knowledge makes it easier for us to forgive them.
Of course, when you love someone you don’t want to hurt them. You’re not trying to get even and get revenge. Without that on the table, there’s no need to hold on to a grudge and stay angry. Without that anger, it becomes easy to forgive. If you love the other person, it’s easy to forgive.
If you don’t have that kind of solid relationship and love, it’s much harder to forgive and move on. That’s when it’s particularly important to remember that you’re trying to set a good example for your loved ones. If you want your children to grow up and become caring and forgiving adults, you need to model that behavior for them. Kids watch what you do and how you live your life.
Taking the high road of forgiveness instead of holding on to anger and resentment isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth pursuing. Not only will you set a good example for the people that matter in your life, but it will also make you feel better. Forgiving and moving on with your life is a much more pleasant option than hanging on to all the anger and hurt. Don’t look to get even, or get revenge. Learn to forgive and find happiness and joy in that forgiveness.
How Forgiveness Leads to Happiness
When you forgive someone for a wrong done to you – be it real or imagined, you let go of a lot of anger and resentment. And that’s a good thing. Holding on to anger and pain instead of working through it and moving on can lead to all sorts of bad things including stress, depression, and various health issues. In other words, holding on to a grudge sucks the happiness right out of your life.
It stands to reason then, that if you start to practice forgiveness and let go of all that anger, you end up living a happier, more fulfilled life. And that is certainly true. Give it a try and see for yourself. Forgive a person you’ve been upset with and see for yourself how that weight lifts off your shoulders. Your anger starts to fade away and makes room for joy and happiness.
But it doesn’t stop there. Forgiving may seem like a weak thing to do, but it actually takes a lot of strength to forgive. When you push yourself to practice forgiveness, you work out that muscle and build your strength. With that comes a lot of pride and self-esteem. You’ll start to feel better, more powerful, and more control. And with that comes a whole new level of confidence and happiness.
Becoming a forgiving person will help improve your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Yes, forgiving someone for a wrong they’ve done is a nice thing to do, and if you do it in person, they will feel better about it. More importantly, though, forgiveness is about helping you feel better. It’s the right and kind thing to do. There’s a reason it’s such an important part of every major religion. Practice forgiveness and you’ll improve your spirituality. Let go of anger and pain, stop focusing on getting revenge or getting even and you’ll improve your mental health. Let go and find your inner peace through forgiveness and you’ll improve your physical health by lowering your stress and your risk of depression. With this improved overall health, it’s easier to look on the bright side and become a happier, more fulfilled person.
Stop hurting yourself and others by holding on to a grudge and staying angry. Forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness and it doesn’t mean you condone what the other person did. It simply means that you show kindness to the other person. While you don’t agree with what they’ve done, you pardon them so you can both move on. It’s a much more positive way of dealing with a negative situation than trying to get even and hurt them in return. Forgiveness allows you to release the hold the other person has over you and move on to happier days.