There is a very old saying that says, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” This is a warning to people to not act out in anger or resentment because you only end up harming yourself. Over time, these feelings of resentment can build until the individual develops feelings of depression or anxiety.
While forgiving others who have hurt us isn’t always easy, in the end, it greatly benefits our mental health and overall well-being. To be clear, forgiving others does NOT mean you agree with or condone their poor behavior. And it doesn’t mean you are announcing that your feelings don’t matter. Forgiveness simply means letting go of the negative feelings that are holding you down and causing you prolonged distress.
Again, forgiving someone who has hurt you isn’t easy, but it will lead you to a sense of peace and joy. Here are some steps you can take to forgive others:
Process Your Pain
Have you really faced your pain and processed it? You’ll need to do this before you can let those pain filled feelings go. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings deeply and fully. Cry, yell, hit your pillow, do whatever it takes.
It takes two to tango, as they say. While we can easily point to others and blame them for the breakup or ugly incident, the truth is, we were there also. We may have played some small role. Even if it was to retaliate in the moment and to show our own ugliness. It’s time to forgive your own humanity and any wrongdoing to yourself or others.
Try to Understand
True forgiveness is impossible without a sense of understanding. You can try to forgive, claim you have forgiven, only to have those negative nagging feelings crop up again and again. When we try to understand why someone has acted the way they have, it can wipe out the negative feelings instantly, almost as if by magic.
A critical parent acts the way they act because they, too, were the victim of a critical parent. An overbearing boss may be dealing with a personal tragedy at home. Our cheating spouse is self-sabotaging his or her life because they have incredibly low self-esteem and do not feel they deserve happiness. Life is complicated and human beings are even more so. Try to be curious and seek to understand why someone has hurt you. You will be amazed at what this magical A-ha moment can do for you.
And if you’d like to speak to someone and get some guidance and much-needed perspective, please reach out to me.