Has someone ever wronged you, causing you to hold a grudge for weeks, months, or years? It’s understandable in many circumstances, especially when someone’s done something particularly harmful or life-altering to you.
Thinking about revenge might make you feel a little better in the short term. But ultimately, forgiveness leads to less stress and a greater inner peace for you.
How to Go About Forgiving
Achieving forgiveness can be easier in some circumstances than others. A small slight or insult might be pretty easy to forgive, especially if the transgressor is a good friend or family member.
When someone does something more harmful to you, it can be tough to reach a state of forgiveness. Here are some things you can do to help get you there:
- Think about the factors in the other person’s life that might have contributed to them acting, saying, or doing something hurtful to you. Almost always, the person who wronged you has been similarly hurt or otherwise taught the behavior. Alternatively, they could have acted out of jealousy or self-defense.
- While you are thinking about what might have contributed to the other person’s actions, give some thought to the factors that are contributing to you taking offense or being upset by it. Of course, in some situations, there’s no other way for you to react, but for minor things, factors within yourself might be causing the issue to be more significant in your mind than it needs to be.
- Try not to dwell on the transgression. When you allow yourself to do so, it can become more significant in your mind and result in even more hurt. That makes it harder to forgive.
- Give up the notion of being right. There are always more than two sides to every story. Embrace your life’s experience for what it is—a series of events that help you learn and grow. Choose to let go of things that are holding you back from that learning and growing and embrace the peace that comes with doing so.
How to Forgive Yourself
When we are talking about forgiveness, it’s important to acknowledge that sometimes we all need to forgive ourselves for certain things. We can hold grudges against ourselves for a huge variety of issues, like missing opportunities, wronging other people, not saying the right things, or having specific personality characteristics we wish we didn’t have.
It’s as important to forgive yourself for these things as it is to forgive others for their transgressions against you. You can use the same steps listed above to forgive yourself.
A good behavioral therapist can help you both with forgiving others and with forgiving yourself. When you do so, you’ll experience more peace and less stress.
Start with Small Things
If you’re new to the business of forgiving and you have a lot of work to do on that front, start small and work your way up to large events in your life that you’re holding grudges about. Little things are easier to work through, so you’ll be able to achieve forgiveness faster. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to experience the stress-relief of these small forgivenesses, and that will help you continue on to bigger and more significant items on your list.
Try to Project Love
As you move forward in life after you’ve forgiven the things in your past that you’ve been holding onto, try to do so from a position of love and non-judgment. Remember that, the vast majority of the time, the way people act toward you has much more to do with their issues than it has to do with you.
Try not to take offense to things people say and do, but instead, focus on loving those around you and giving them room to make mistakes. Not only will that be a less stressful way for you to live, but it will also be an example for others to follow.