In an earlier article, we looked at why it is so important to forgive people who have hurt us:
In this article, we will look at some specific things to keep in mind and steps you can take to forgive even when it’s hard.
How Do I Forgive?
- Remember that forgiveness is not an event, it is a process. It may be easier to think of forgiveness as being made up of two steps. The first step is making the decision to forgive. The second step is working towards getting out thoughts and emotions to match up with that decision. The decision to forgive can be made in an instant, but many times it takes a lot longer to complete the second step.
- Forgiveness isn’t always easy. So, don’t assume that just because you’ve decided to forgive that the hard part is out of the way. Sometimes, the process of reconciling your emotions and thoughts to that decision is even harder than the decision itself.
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. If someone has harmed you, particularly if that harm involved some sort of neglect or abuse, forgiveness does not mean that you forget what the person did or put yourself in the position to be hurt that way again.
- Empathy can be an important step in the forgiveness process. Empathy is trying to put yourself into the shoes of the person who has hurt you. Why might they have done what they did? Why were they probably feeling at the time? Did they intend to hurt you? Trying to understand the situations from the other person’s point of view can be a valuable step in forgiving.
- Understand your emotions. How did the actions in question make you feel? Why did they make you feel that way? Naming those emotions and recognizing them in yourself is an important step towards releasing those emotions and ultimately towards the ability to forgive.
- If it is possible, safe and appropriate, tell the person that you are forgiving how their actions made you feel and that you are forgiving them. It is not important whether they choose to accept your forgiveness or even admit that they did anything wrong. If it isn’t possible to do this in person, write it in a letter.