One of the greatest life lessons I have learned is how to forgive the people who had hurt me. It was an important part of my healing journey and helped me become the fulfilled person I am today. I’ll admit, it wasn’t a quick or linear process, but over the course of several years, I began to understand that when we forgive others, it is as much for us as it is for them—if not more so.
I initially struggled with forgiving anyone because I didn’t feel like the people in my life who had hurt me deserved it—especially my father for whom I maintained a laundry list of transgressions. It felt as though by forgiving him, I was letting him off the hook for all the pain he had caused me. But eventually, I realized that his shortcomings as a father were a reflection of his own struggles in life, and that he was doing the best he could with what he had.
Holding onto feelings like anger, hatred, and pain is a way people create boundaries and avoid getting hurt again by someone. While emotions such as these may give you a sense of protection, they are ultimately toxic and punish you as much as the one who hurt you. As the saying goes: “It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
It’s very important to understand that forgiveness is not condoning what happened or saying it was okay. Rather, the act of forgiving others is much more about creating peace inside yourself despite the painful things that happened, because they happened—there is no erasing the past.
When you refuse to let go of your grievances against others, it lets them retain some degree of power over you. Now I absolutely understand that there are some heinous acts that don’t seem as though they’re forgivable. When that is the case and you don’t feel like you can do it for the other person (or people), is it possible you can at least start doing it for yourself? Because when you do, you regain control over your emotions rather than let someone else be in charge of how you feel.
Believe me, I didn’t wake up one morning saying, “Today’s the day I am going to forgive my father for all the pain he caused me!” It was a slow process as I worked to release the hurt inside of myself. I realized that forgiveness is not only a feeling, but also an intentional action that requires regular practice, so each day I chipped away at it and finally broke through my own resistance.
Since forgiveness isn’t something most people can easily rush, making a small effort every day—even when you don’t really feel like it—can help you make progress in releasing the burden of what happened.
The following strategies can be helpful in guiding you to forgive a person who has hurt you in some meaningful way.
By forgiving the people who hurt me, I have been able to integrate the difficult experiences of my past into my life in a way that has made me even stronger. And I know with practice, this can happen for you too!
For more inspiration, order my new memoir, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child: How Persistence, Grit, and Faith Created a Reluctant Healer. To help calm stress and promote more positive moods, try GABA Calming Support at BrainMD. Want 21% off? Enter TANA21 at checkout. It’s that easy! And if you can’t get past the pain others have caused you, consider making an appointment with a mental healthcare professional at Amen Clinics by calling 844-818-0616 or visit our contact page here.
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