“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” -Thomas Fuller
When you hold onto pain, it makes you feel validated and powerful. The secret though about holding grudges is that they do not harm the person that hurt you; they harm YOU. Here’s how to get past pain and forgive:
Walk a mile in their shoes –People rarely hurt others intentionally. When someone does upset you, it is highly possible they did not realize the effects of their actions. If their pain was maliciously inflicted though, consider the way the other person may have interpreted the chain of events that took place.
Keep in mind, also, that we all come from different backgrounds, and we all handle conflict and emotions differently. None of these explanations should excuse this person’s behavior though or invalidate your feelings; this entry is to merely help you understand so you can let go of your pain.
Talk to the person who caused you pain – If you haven’t already, consider expressing your feelings to the person who hurt you—send an email or write a letter, if that’s easier. This gives you a chance to articulate what was not acceptable and why you were hurt.
It also sets boundaries for you on future interactions. Chances are the two of you will walk away with a better understanding of the incident and each other.
Recognize the damage it’s doing to you – When you feed the grudge that you’re holding, it only self-perpetuates a cycle of bitterness and hate. Your feelings about the pain are reasonable and valid: you want the situation to be resolved, for things to feel “even.”
But when you don’t get the retribution you seek, you’re left with a wound that can’t heal and won’t heal on its own. It sounds obvious, but your pain won’t make you any happier. Relief will only come through true forgiveness.
Say something nice to them – Before you feel it, you might have to do it. Say something nice or acknowledge an accomplishment they had. Letting go of your pain, even for a moment, to compliment the one who hurt you, or to discuss other unrelated events, might surprise you with a more positive reaction than you expected. It can easily become the gateway to letting your guard down and letting go of the pain.
The power is all yours – Whether they’ve apologized profusely or inadequately, it’s up to you to move on. No one can do it for you, no matter what the person does to try to make it up to you. Fact of the matter is that many people may not give you what you’re even looking for. But it’s up to you to move on. You can’t live your whole life based on a reaction to pain.
Choose life, love, and peace—let go and forgive! Take your happiness back.
About Alex Blackwell
Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender, which includes 10 free Peace and Balance tools.
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