The people who hurt us most are often those closest to us or those who were in the past – partners and ex-partners, friends, siblings and parents. When we are hurt by someone we loved and trusted, it can be extremely difficult to forgive and move on.
When you experience hurt, you store negative emotions such as anger or sadness, which can grow bigger and bigger over time if not dealt with – leaving us feeling much worse than the actual event.
Negative feelings can eventually crowd out all positive feelings, hijacking our thinking and consuming our every thought, replaying over and over again in our mind. The sense of injustice can pervade our very being, resulting in sickness and dis-ease … both in mind and body.
When you hold onto these negative emotions, the only person who is affected is you. All areas of your life can suffer, including new relationships, day to day happiness and more importantly - your health. You continually pay the price.
“When you don’t forgive someone, it is like drinking poison hoping it will hurt the other person”
Why Should I Forgive?
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone someone’s actions. It just releases you from further pain and suffering.
If they are a good person, then understand that their bad behaviour was not the real person, but their unconscious driving them in ways that possibly even they don’t understand. And by forgiving them you enable them to learn and move forward.
Forgiving someone can be the greatest gift you might give someone. It tells them that they are special, and that you value their love and friendship, regardless of what they have done.
If they are in denial of their bad behaviour, then that is not your problem. The only thing that matters is your own well being. You are not responsible for other people’s learnings.
If the other person is not a nice person, then by not forgiving them, you are enabling them to continue to hurt you, even after they have moved on.
There is very little upside to not forgiving. You are unlikely to hurt or change the other person. You will just hurt yourself more. And sometimes that is exactly the reaction that they are looking for.
It’s important not to think of forgiveness in terms of “they don’t deserve to be forgiven”. You’re not doing it for their sake, but for your own. Other techniques are far better for the self. For example, indifference enables you to let go of the negative emotions, while disconnecting from the person.
The Other Person
If you have reconciled, be aware that the other person may remain sensitive to what they did for a long time to come. This can destroy any future relationship unless you help ease their pain and guilt by being sensitive to triggers. Although you may feel you deserve to be shown remorse at various times in the future, all you will do is destroy any chance of happiness together.
Also remember, the way they show remorse may be completely different to how you would. It will depend on their past experiences and the type of personality they have grown up with. There is no right or wrong way, so just focus on yourself. Don’t put expectations on them.
Getting the other person to change mustn’t be the aim of you forgiving. They may never change or apologise. Think of forgiveness in terms of how it can change your life – by bringing more peace, happiness and emotional healing. Don’t hang out for vindication or righted injustices. Rise above those personal needs and remember:
Forgiveness = Liberation