How to Forgive Someone who has Hurt You
Getting hurt by others is inevitable. It feels lousy. And sometimes that bad feeling lasts and lasts. Forgiving someone for hurting you is not an easy task at all. But the difficult decision to forgive someone is extremely powerful and can be to your own benefit. It’s important to let go of the anger, resentment and regret that comes from the hurt in order to experience true peace in your life.
What you must realize is that forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily mean you have to reconcile with them—or need to continue a relationship with them. You may choose to not have them in your life at all. It’s the cleansing of your sense of hatred and resentment to heal and move on with your life.
Here’s a guide on exactly how to do that—even when it feels impossible.
- Be the bigger person and decide to forgive.
It’s tempting to play the blame game when you’ve been hurt, placing all of the responsibility on the so-called offender and thinking, I’m not going to reach out unless they do.
But that mentality can backfire because you’re placing your ability to heal in someone else’s control. By being the bigger person, you put yourself in the position of power. Yes, they hurt you, but you’re allowed to move forward whether or not they’re game. You have to choose it for yourself when you are ready to accept what happened, acknowledge your feelings, and let go.
- Don’t worry, the act remains unacceptable.
Remember that just because you have chosen to forgive someone who has wronged you does not make the hurt that they imposed on you acceptable. It is okay to feel angry, to feel shattered and to feel betrayed. Your feelings are 100 percent valid.
Being able to forgive someone makes you the bigger person and allows you to take control of your life and set boundaries for yourself. These boundaries are important because it will set the bar for what you are willing to accept in your future. You are allowed to say, ‘I have forgiven you, but I will not accept this behavior ever again’.
- Identify what you want.
Do you want to be friends again? Or do you just want to let go of the bad feelings? Do you want to be with your partner for years to come, or do you want to break up? This won’t necessarily impact how you move forward but keeping the goal in mind helps you not lose track of what you’re after.
When you’re struggling with your emotions toward the person, reminding yourself of your end goal can ease those feelings.
- Get mad, feel hurt and grieve.
When someone hurts you, grief and anger are natural and healthy responses. So is self-pity! And there’s no set time for how long it takes to work through and process the hurt.
Forgiveness is allowing negative feelings of outrage and grief to come in, and then letting them go because you’re now at peace with your life.
- Find empathy or sympathy.
You may even want to try to see the story from someone else’s side. Understanding where someone is coming from helps you replace negative, unforgiving emotions (hostility and bitterness) with positive emotions (like empathy and compassion).
If there’s absolutely no way you can empathize with an offender, try to sympathize instead by remembering when you, too, have been forgiven for something. Again, your brain only has so much space and choosing positive emotions leaves less room for negative ones, helping you feel freer.
- Practice self-love.
Take some time out for some me-time. Do things that make you happy. Being able to practice self-love will provide you with the much-needed time to think about what is best for you, why you should forgive others and to do it in your own time.
It is important to consider that a big part of loving yourself is owning who you are and accepting how you feel. Take the time to figure this out so that you can realize your true value. Understand yourself first with time and then you will be able to understand the other person and why they did what they did to hurt you. When we take the time out to accept, love, and forgive ourselves, we can do the same for others as well.