We have all been there. We have all been deeply hurt by someone we care about. It is a painful experience. That hurt fertilizes feelings of hatred, resentment, revenge, and bitterness. It feels like you are consumed from within, like you are shackled in emotional chains. For a moment, you think about crafting a plan to counterattack, but deep within, you want to let go. You just want to move on with your life. But how can you do that? By incorporating these powerful lessons of life. But first, you must understand what forgiveness is.

What is Forgiveness?

One definition of forgiveness is, “the deliberate decision to let go of feelings of resentment, vengeance and bitterness towards a person even if they don’t deserve it.”
A great way to understand what forgiveness IS and incorporate these great lessons of life is to learn what forgiveness is NOT.

– Forgiveness does not mean forgetting
– Forgiveness does not mean it was not painful
– Forgiveness does not mean you will pick up your life or relationship exactly where you left it. Going forward, your life or relationship with the person is going to be different, but the whole point is being able to go forward.
– Forgiveness does not mean you stop believing they were at fault – they still are. It might be their fault you feel this way, but it is your responsibility to feel better.
– Forgiveness does not mean they get to stroll back into your life.

How to Forgive

Forgiveness can be delicate to manoeuvre, and even though its benefits are worth giving it a try, you might still need a good strategy to get through it:

  1. Try to isolate the action 

If you give it some thought, you might come to the realization that there are not too many sadists in the world. Most of us tend to do bad things when we are exposed to the wrong information or dreadful situations that have the potential to bring out the worse in us – and sometimes, we just let our emotions do the thinking for us. This is not about trying to make something bad seem less noxious, it is about trying to separate the wrongdoing from the wrongdoer.

  1. Try to understand their “whys” and empathize

Why did that person hurt you? What was their motivation? Again, it is good to start from the basis that there are relatively few outright bad people. Most people tend to do hurtful things because they are hurt themselves, or in some cases, are just seeking your attention. For example, someone becoming a bully because they were abused in their childhood, or an adolescent doing drugs to get their parent’s attention.

Note that these are not excuses, they are explanations that might help you empathize and ultimately give you the strength to forgive the person. Empathizing is probably going to be the most difficult step because it is about you “walking in their shoes”; and trying to carry the pain they are carrying, but it is also the most important step.

  1. Set boundaries and unshackle emotional chains 

Once you are able to empathize with the person, it is important for you to set boundaries that include you asking yourself what role they should play in your life, or even if they should have a role to play in the first place. This process is easiest when the wrongdoer is a stranger, and most difficult when it is a close friend, intimate partner, or family member. But these boundaries are important because they will protect your mental health in the future.

The final step is to let go. Let the pain, feelings of revenge, resentment and hatred subside. This is often a gradual process, depending on the depth of the wound. These emotions might still arise when you are around the person, but they will go eventually.

It is important to implement these important lessons of life in order to protect our emotional well-being. However, it takes practice. Just as you need to exercise and grow your muscles to improve your physical health, you need to practice and grow the forgiveness muscle to improve your mental health.

Categories: Life Lessons

28 Comments

Amara Kone · April 28, 2020 at 8:53 pm

Emotionally speaking, forgiveness is probably one of the hardest things to grapple with.
I like the idea of understanding the person’s “why”. People can have all sorts of reasons for hurting you badly. Until you understand their reasoning (good or bad), you will not be able to find peace within yourself.

    duppydomTEAM · April 29, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Amara, thank you very much for your comments. You have hit the nail on the head – forgiveness is mostly about the person who is doing the forgiving. Bottling the hurt and anger is not good for your well-being. It does not help create inner peace ☮

      Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:42 pm

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Adaego M. Azi · April 28, 2020 at 9:51 pm

duppydomTEAM—I think the “hurt that fertilizes the most feelings of hatred, resentment, revenge, and bitterness” is betrayal. For many years now, I have felt betrayed by a family member, and I still haven’t gotten over it. In the article, the final step is “let it go”. I guess this is where I am still having a problem. Thanks, duppydomTEAM.

    duppydomTEAM · April 29, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Adaego, we appreciate your comments. Feeling that someone has violated your trust or confidence is a very painful human experience. It’s even worse when the perpetrator is a family member – this person should have known better – and therefore it is even harder to “let it go”. Remember, “forgiveness is not about the other person”, it’s about you. You are the person who has been carrying that hurt/“cancer” in your belly for many years. Simply chalk it up to a lesson learned and no longer confide in that family member 🤐 or share sensitive information with him/her.

      Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:44 pm

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    Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:43 pm

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    S. Jakes · May 1, 2020 at 6:28 am

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S. Jakes · April 28, 2020 at 10:48 pm

duppydomTEAM – when people do nasty things to you – particularly when they purposefully hurt you – do they really deserve forgiveness? One thing I am really trying not to be anymore is a pushover. So now I am standing up for myself and I think not forgiving some people is part of that. For me, your article was good food for thought. Thanks, duppydomTEAM 👏

    duppydomTEAM · April 29, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    S. Jakes – thank you. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent people from hurting us; whether their acts are intentional or not. What we can control is how we respond to it. If standing up for yourself means not forgiving the other person (to their face) – that’s fine; many people believe that this is what forgiveness is. It is not. Forgiveness is not about a behavior – forgiveness is completely (100%) a mental exercise. When someone hurts us, as a way of protecting our ego, we automatically generate “attack” thoughts and these thoughts eat us up from the inside. Forgiveness means “forgiving yourself” for having these thoughts of hate, resentment, bitterness, etc., that you are creating in your mind. Forgiveness is really about creating inner peace (unshackling emotional chains) 🌞💖

      Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:46 pm

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      S. Jakes · May 1, 2020 at 6:27 am

      👏

    Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:45 pm

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Lisa Steffler · April 29, 2020 at 12:52 am

[For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mat. 6:14-15)]
Even though forgiveness is one of the most important creeds of Christianity, both the religious and non-religious, have a hard time with this virtue. The most important messages from the article that will lead to forgiveness is being empathetic and letting the hurt go. DuppydomTEAM – thank you very much for writing this article.

    duppydomTEAM · April 29, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you, Lisa, for your comments. The religious and non-religious alike, should always remember that “a whole cluster of important human virtues—empathy, compassion, kindness, generosity, service, loyalty, patriotism, and forgiveness—make up the virtue of love.” And love is the central doctrine of all religions 😇

      Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:47 pm

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Amie Warwick · April 29, 2020 at 1:58 am

duppydom – interesting article. So, maybe you can help with this? One of my best friends (the bride) had a clash with one of her bridesmaids at her wedding. It turns out that the bridesmaid made out with the bride’s brother at the wedding and it was caught on video, and somehow became part of the wedding video. This happened almost two years ago and to this day my friend has not talked to her bridesmaid – she says her behavior was insulting, embarrassing, and vengeful. I have stopped telling her to forgive and forget because it always leads to a massive argument and she gets mad at me. This whole thing has caused a rift in many friendships.

    duppydomTEAM · April 29, 2020 at 5:37 pm

    Amie – thank you for your comments. Funny thing about sheltering hurt, vengefulness, insult, etc.; while these feelings bind and consume us, the other person is often living their best life without a care in the world. Although we don’t know the entire story, it seems like the bride is the one bearing the brunt of this fiasco. And why has her brother gotten off scot-free; he was certainly a part of it. There is an adage in the world of conflict resolution, “sunlight is the best disinfectant”; meaning, you would be surprised what will rise to the surface when you bring something out into the open and talk about it (and practice empathic listening). This is exactly what the bride, her brother and the bridesmaid should do. If not, the bride should at least forgive herself for harboring these emotions (attack thoughts) for the last two years. It’s been over and done with for two years – now she should strive for inner peace 🧘‍♀️

      Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:49 pm

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    Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    😲

Nadine Wu · April 29, 2020 at 2:33 am

I love the image of “unshackling emotional chains”. I have forgiven before and that is exactly what it seemed like. An ex-boyfriend cheated on me. When I found out my world fell apart and I cried for days; I could not eat or sleep. I forgave him because it seemed like that was the only way to get rid of the horrible pain I was feeling – and it was emotional pain, eating at my head, heart and stomach. But then I started to hate myself (I honestly felt like a piece of garbage that he could toss aside at any time he wanted to), so I broke up with him. My advice about forgiveness – make sure you can live with yourself if you do forgive.

    duppydomTEAM · April 29, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Nadine – we appreciate your insightful comments. The reason forgiveness can take a long time, is because before we can forgive, we must peacefully resolve our inner most feelings and conflicts. Which means that by the time we get to a place of true forgiveness, we can live with ourselves (our decisions). Said another way, “forgiveness can be seen as a healing virtue ⚕ since it has a capacity to free an individual from being consumed by anger, check one’s tendency toward cruelty, and open doors to the restoration of broken relationships.”

      Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      🤗

    Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    Been there! 💔

    S. Jakes · May 1, 2020 at 6:30 am

    👏

Bruce Peters · April 29, 2020 at 6:37 am

Yes, it is important to forgive others, but it is even more important to forgive yourself. Even though my former wife definitely contributed to our divorce, I took it very hard. I consider myself a family man and wanted my son to be raised in a complete family unit. So, I blamed myself for the divorce and carried that guilt in my heart for a while. This might sound odd, but it was my current girlfriend who helped me forgive myself for getting divorced. In a way, she helped me show more “empathy toward myself, so I could unshackle my emotional chains”. All around, forgiveness is an essential virtue!

    duppydomTEAM · April 29, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Bruce, thank you for sharing your comments. You have made a great point about self-forgiveness. When we feel that we have broken a personal standard (particularly an ethical one), it can lead to self-loathing and self-punishment. The bottom line – whether emotional pain is inflicted by someone else or by our-self, the way toward forgiveness is the same. Bruce, as you alluded to, the way to achieve self-forgiveness (and inner peace) is accepting your imperfections and showing self-compassion and self-empathy 💜

      Adaego M. Azi · April 30, 2020 at 1:54 pm

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