As we go on through life, we will meet many people, some of who will hurt us sooner or later, both intentionally and unintentionally. However, I believe in order to live a joyful and successful life, one of the lessons we must learn is how to forgive others. There are a few people, sadly, who never learn this lesson and carry their bitterness, not only to their other relationships, but more seriously…to their graves. Here are some ways that I have personally learned about on how to forgive others, genuinely and/or completely:
- Deal with the pain and the hurt the other person or people caused.—Some people, in an attempt to “forgive” or excuse the person that hurt them, try to sweep their feelings under a rug, so to speak, and try to willingly “forget” about the pain the person had caused. I have three words for this method of coping. Does. NOT. work! I have found that the more I try to forget about something, the more my mind conjures up the very thing I’m trying to forget! A more effective way of coping is to deal with the pain and hurt the other person or people caused. Healthy ways of doing this include writing a letter to the offender (that you will not send) chronicling all your angry and hurt feelings towards him or her and then burning it or tearing it up afterwards for release, crying, writing angry poetry about the situation, talking to a trusted friend not involved in the hurtful situation, talking to a counselor or therapist, exercising your anger and hurt out, praying for them (if you are religious or spiritual).
- Pray and/or think good things about the person who offended you.–This is very difficult sometimes, especially if the person who hurt you is an abuser or hurt you in another very grievous way. However, in order to forgive, we must make an effort to think about at least one thing good about that person. If you are spiritual, I would recommend praying blessings for that person. For instance, when someone had hurt me emotionally, I tried to pray to God for them to be blessed in their job and in their general life. I also thanked God for their good qualities I had observed in them in getting to know them. Whether you are spiritual or not, I would try to think about several positive qualities you have personally observed in that individual or those individuals that hurt you.
- Don’t wait until you “feel” like forgiving to forgive someone. –Some people wait until the “time is just right” to forgive someone. The problem is that the time is never “just right.” Also, forgiveness is an act of the will. You just have to do it! Yes, one may not have forgiving feelings towards someone, but resolve to do it anyway. The feeling of freedom and renewed joy will come in time.
- Forgive for you, not for the other person.–This may seem selfish, but if you try to forgive someone for them alone, it will be harder to forgive because we are hardwired to think that if someone does something wrong, they should suffer the consequences for it. Forgiveness always goes to those who don’t deserve it. When that fact and our quest for justice clash, we may find it nigh impossible to forgive. However, when we forgive to free ourselves of the pain and hurt that that person caused, it becomes more motivating for us to forgive.
- Intentionally try to do good for the person who hurt you.–DISCLAIMER: If the person in question is abusive or extremely manipulative, or if they are deceased, this does not apply! For all other situations, you should strive to act against the feelings of resentment and anger you have towards that other person and intentionally do good for that person. For instance, if the person said something hurtful to you and you were angry, try to intentionally say something kind about them to their face. Don’t say something “fake” nice or that you don’t really mean; people can tell the difference. Say something genuinely kind about them.
These are some ways you can forgive someone who has hurt you, effectively and genuinely. If the offender in question is not sorry for their hurtful actions, you don’t have to excuse their actions, but still treat them with kindness and grace. However, be careful not to give your trust to them until they repent and make amends for their hurtful actions. However, we should strive to forgive and treat everyone with grace, not because they deserve it, but because our world will be a much better place.