Everyone has suffered some sort of emotional hurt through the words or actions of another. Experiencing this hurt is completely natural, but sometimes the hurt lasts longer than it needs to. This makes it harder to be happy and, if we can’t let go and move on, it can ruin relationships. Someone that can never forgive is someone destined to be alone.
Forgiveness is one of the ways you can profoundly change your life. It’s not always easy, but it’s a skill that can be learned. It just takes practice.
Try these techniques to help you forgive, let go, and move forward with greater happiness:
1. Think about all the advantages of letting go of your hurt. Make a list of what you would gain by forgiving what has happened to you. Think about how free you would feel. How will your relationship with that person change?
2. List the disadvantages of maintaining your negative feelings. What toll is it taking on you and the people around you? How does it affect your children if you can’t forgive your wife, parents, or whomever? Is it going to solve anything by continuing down the path you’re currently on?
3. Commit to letting go. It’s difficult to accomplish anything without having the intention of doing so. Most people don’t miraculously lose 25 pounds or start saving an extra $100 every month; anything positive normally starts with an intention. So commit to finding a way to forgive and move on.
4. Understand that you have a choice. We are intelligent, thoughtful creatures. We don’t have to simply react to things like lower animals. You do have a choice about how you interpret things and the actions you take afterwards. You can also change your mind and choose something different after your initial reaction. You can choose.
5. Be empathetic. It’s easy to just assume that the other person is just a bad person, but maybe there is more to it than that. What else do they have going on in their lives? Has something happened in their past that caused them to behave the way that they did? Try to see things from their perspective. You might be surprised what you find.
6. Consider your part in it. Did you contribute to the issue in some way? It’s rare that anyone is 100% innocent when a disagreement occurs. Realizing your part in the matter can help you understand their motivation. Also, it’s important to find forgiveness for yourself, as well, if you regret anything that you did or said.
7. Focus on the here and now. Constantly reliving the past just keeps the hurt feelings churning. One of the keys to life is to be in the present. Look around you; what do you see? What are you doing? If you’re washing the dishes, be 100% aware of the fact that you’re washing the dishes, not thinking about other things. Be present.
8. Move on. Forgive the person and you’ll immediately feel better. We’re at our best when we act with compassion. We feel great, too, when compassion and forgiveness are automatically part of our lives. Forgiveness is something that you largely do for yourself.
Forgiving and forgetting is a skill that requires work to become good at it. But be smart. If someone took advantage of you at work, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful to prevent it from happening again. Forgiving means that you should let it go so you don’t have to be miserable thinking about that person every day for the next 5 years.
Negative emotions are tools that can tell us that something might be wrong. For your best results, take the appropriate action at the time something happens and then be done with the emotion. Forgive and move on with your life!