HOW TO FORGIVE SOMEONE: 15 POSITIVE WAYS TO UNBURDEN YOUR MIND
Dr. Carol Morgan
We’ve all been there… someone did something bad to us, and we’re mad. Steaming mad! But here’s how to forgive someone who has hurt you.
For some reason, forgiveness seems to be one of the most difficult things for a human being to do. It’s almost like people think that if they hold on to the resentment and dwell in the negativity, that somehow it will undo the past. Well, let me tell you what you already know… it won’t. If you really want to hold on to your sanity, you need to know how to forgive someone.
As Buddha once said, “Holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” While that might sound ridiculous, think about it for a second. It’s true! What good does it do to hold on to the anger? You might think it’s doing some good like punishing the other person, but trust me, it’s not.
Why it’s so difficult to learn how to forgive someone
Why, oh why, is it so hard for us humans to forgive? Well, there are many reasons. But one of them is that we have expectations. Yes, you heard me. Expectations of other people’s behavior. And when those expectations are violated, then we feel hurt and offended.
I’m not saying that other people don’t do a lot of crappy things. They do. And they vary in degrees of seriousness. So, don’t think that I’m trying to tell you to stick around in an abusive relationship – I’m not. In situations like that, you just need to remove yourself.
But if the wrongdoing is not of gargantuan proportions, and it’s relatively mundane in the grand scheme of things, then you need to learn to let go and forgive.
Tips for learning how to forgive someone
I don’t have a magic wand that I can hand you for you to suddenly become a master at forgiveness like Mother Teresa. But, I do have some tips for how to forgive someone that will definitely help you move on and find happiness again.
#1 Think of them as a child. When a child does something wrong, we usually have the attitude of, “Well, I don’t like it, but they’re still learning so they’re doing the best they can.”
I hate to break it to you, but some adults aren’t very wise or mature. So, they are probably performing on the level of a child. That’s why you should think of them as someone who doesn’t know any better. That doesn’t mean you have to condone the negative behavior, however.
#2 Think of the grand scheme of things. Are you angry because your live-in love never does the laundry? Or your best friend didn’t call you the moment she read your Facebook status update? Get over it.
Stuff like that is not a big deal in the greater scheme of life. Talk to them, and move past it. Holding on to anger over petty things doesn’t help anyone – especially you.
#3 Talk to them. Some people just fester in silence. What good does that do? Maybe the person who you’re angry with doesn’t even know they did something wrong! So, you have to talk to them about it. And I don’t mean fight… I mean TALK. Talk rationally. Only then can you come to some sort of resolution. It’s the first step in learning how to forgive someone.
#4 Take responsibility for your part. I know you don’t want to hear it, but sometimes, it’s not entirely the other person’s fault. Many times, we had a part to play. So, do some self-reflection and be mature enough to admit if you did or said something that contributed to this situation.
#5 Be kind. When people are angry, it’s difficult for them to be kind. But if you have everyone’s best interest in mind, and you want to let go of the resentment, then speak and act kindly to the person who wronged you. “An eye for an eye” is just bull. It never solves anything. So, put on your kindness cap and approach the situation with love.
#6 Think good thoughts. When we’re so caught up in anger and resentment, sometimes it’s hard to think of anything good. But, you need to try. The future isn’t a disaster. Things will get better. Be an optimist and things will turn out a whole lot better that way.
#7 Don’t take it personally. When learning how to forgive someone, this is vital. Too often, we think that everything that everyone else does is on purpose. Or that they went through some long, drawn-out thought process that included plotting and planning strategies for how to hurt you.
Usually, that’s not true although sometimes it is. Instead remember this… other people’s actions reflect who they are, not who YOU are.
#8 Don’t be offended. Who offends you? The other person? No! You do. I know you’re probably confused by that. But when you get offended, you are giving away your power to them. You are allowing their behavior to disturb your peace of mind.
Don’t let them do that to you! Refuse to be offended by their actions. Easier said than done, I know. But it’s possible.
#9 Don’t live in the past. You might be thinking that if you had only “caught” them back then. Or that if you had “noticed the signs earlier” this wouldn’t have happened. Or if you didn’t do xyz it could have been prevented. Stop it. You can’t live in the past, only in the now. So, think toward the future.
#10 Try not to judge. I know, I know. Easier said than done… again. But do you like it when other people judge you for doing something they didn’t like especially if you didn’t mean to? Of course not. So sometimes you need to cut people some slack and not judge so harshly. Remember, we are all human. And no one is perfect.
#11 Remember why you liked/loved them to begin with. When a friend or loved one wrongs you, it hurts more deeply because they are the last people we would expect it from. But as I said above, they’re human.
So, don’t dwell on what went wrong or what you hate about them. Instead, remember their good qualities and why you were drawn to them in the first place.
#12 Meditate. You may think this sounds cheesy, but there are many scientific studies about the benefits of meditation. It greatly reduces your stress levels, which are undoubtedly running high when you are angry and resentful at someone. So, get a guided meditation digital download or simply sit and quiet your mind and focus on positive things.
#13 Ask yourself what you can learn from it. Many times, we can learn valuable lessons from the bad things that happen to us. It’s unfortunate that they occur, but you have to look for the life lesson in it. It may not be easy to do, but if you do learn something, then remember it for the rest of your life so history doesn’t repeat itself.
#14 Accept that it can’t be un-done. Another famous quote from Buddha is “It is resistance to what is that causes your suffering.” If you keep getting stuck in the fact that you want to un-do what was done, just stop. Stop resisting it and start accepting it. Not condoning it, just accepting that it happened. Then move forward.
#15 Forgive them for YOURSELF. Usually, we think that if we forgive someone, we are doing for their benefit. However, you should really do it for yourself!
What I mean by that is… carrying resentment around is exhausting, isn’t it? Don’t you just wish you could unload it and be done with it? Well, guess what? You can! It’s just a decision. Love yourself enough to let it go.
Learning how to forgive someone who has hurt you is never easy, but it can be done. It all starts with a decision to move past the negativity. Trust me, it’s worth it.