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Forgiving someone who has wronged you is hard. It is hard to let go of the bitterness, anger and resentment that we naturally feel when someone has hurt us.  Of course, we know that we should forgive.  We know that carrying around all those negative feelings is bad for us, both mentally and physically.  But how do we forgive?

Below, I offer some thoughts on how to get yourself on the path to forgiveness. I’ve had had a bit of life experience and some people to forgive along my journey.  These are the approaches that have worked for me.  I hope and pray they help you as well.

  1. Forgive Yourself First: The hardest thing about being hurt is forgiving ourselves. Very often we kick ourselves for having permitted someone to hurt us. Perhaps we put up with bad behavior for a long time that we shouldn’t have. Or maybe we trusted someone who was clearly untrustworthy. Or maybe we didn’t stand up for ourselves. If that is your situation, I beg you to please forgive yourself. Sometimes, we put up with crummy behavior for very good reasons. We do so to save marriages. We do it to preserve our relationships with our families or with our friends. There is nothing wrong with that. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Sometimes, unfortunately, we’ve put up with bad behavior because we weren’t in a position to stop it, or we didn’t know how to do so. Again, please forgive yourself. We simply cannot control other people. You aren’t responsible for the bad behavior of another human being, nor are you the cause of that behavior.  So, always forgive yourself first.
  2. Succeed at Something: Frank Sinatra said, “The best revenge is massive success.” Now, I’m not condoning revenge, but success is a good antidote to being hurt. When we are hurt, our confidence takes a hit. Having some successes will help your confidence rebound. So, if you are struggling to forgive someone, take your focus off that person. Instead, give your mental energy to doing something well. Attack a project or a goal. Once you have some successes under your belt, you’ll find that the offense that initially bothered you won’t seem like a such a big deal anymore. You will have moved past it, and forgiveness will come much more easily to you.
  3. Don’t Get Mad, Get Humble: One way to respond to someone hurting you is to get mad. But being mad doesn’t get us anywhere. It is far better to respond by “getting humble.”  When I got divorced, I didn’t feel mad. Instead, I felt humbled by the experience. I realized that like everyone else, I am neither perfect nor invincible. Like all other human beings, I am vulnerable and can be hurt. In fact, we all can be hurt and each one of us can hurt another person. When we become humble enough to realize our own imperfection, it becomes easier to forgive the weakness in the other person that led him or her to hurt us.
  4. Regain Your Power: Being hurt makes us feel powerless against the bad behavior of others. And when we feel powerless, it is hard to forgive. We resent the person who took advantage of our vulnerability. So, we need to regain our power and stop the “victim talk” that goes on inside our heads. “I’m someone people hurt.” “I’m not able to defend myself.” “I’m someone people take advantage of.” All of that may have been true when you were hurt. However, that isn’t true today. Today you are a wise, strong individual. Perhaps before this experience, you were innocent or too trusting. But now you are alert to the signs of someone who isn’t trustworthy. You’ve gained insight and wisdom from your experiences. Forgive the person who wronged you and assume your power. You are no longer vulnerable to the poor behavior of that individual.

Forgiveness is neither easy nor simple. It isn’t something that we do naturally.  Instead, we each have to develop our own approach as to how we will let go of hurt feelings and forgive others.  Consider using some of the above approaches to release any resentments that you may be carrying.  Taking the path to forgiveness most assuredly will benefit one very important person – You.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

 

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