An ancient saying says, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” This is a warning to people not to act out in anger or resentment because you only end up harming yourself. Over time, these resentments can build until the individual develops feelings of depression or anxiety.
While forgiving others who have hurt us isn’t always easy, in the end, it greatly benefits our mental health and overall well-being. To be clear, forgiving others does NOT mean you agree with or condone their poor behaviour. And it doesn’t mean you are announcing that your feelings don’t matter. Instead, forgiveness means letting go of the negative emotions holding you down and causing prolonged distress.
Again, forgiving someone who has hurt you isn’t easy, but it will lead you to a sense of peace and joy. Here are some steps you can take to forgive others:
Process Your Pain
Have you faced your pain and processed it? You’ll need to do this before you can let those feelings go. Permit yourself to feel your emotions deeply and fully. Cry, yell, hit your pillow, do whatever it takes.
It takes two to tango, as they say. While we can quickly point to others and blame them for the breakup or harrowing incident, we were also there. We played a role. Even if it was to retaliate, it’s time to forgive your humanity and any wrongdoing to yourself or others.
Try to Understand
True forgiveness is only possible with a sense of understanding. You can try to forgive and claim you have ignored it, only to have those negative nagging feelings crop up repeatedly. Trying to understand why someone has acted the way they have can wipe out the negative emotions instantly, almost as if by magic.
The critical parent acts that way because they, too, were the victim of a critical parent. An overbearing boss may be dealing with a personal tragedy at home. Our cheating spouse is self-sabotaging their life because they have incredibly low self-esteem and do not feel they deserve happiness.
Life is complicated, and human beings are even more so. Try and understand why someone has hurt you. You will be amazed at what this magical A-ha moment can do for you.
Please reach out if you want to find forgiveness in your relationship. I offer couples and individual counselling from my office in Hove and online globally.