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Updated on October 20, 2020

Learning to Forgive (to let go)

When you have been wronged (whether rightly or wrongly), you will experience a lot of negative feelings such as hurt, pain, betrayal, anger, sadness, frustration, stress or anxiety which can then have a knock on effect of your daily life because you might not be able to sleep well or work effectively.

In other words, your whole person has been completely shaken.  At this point, it is very difficult for you to move on because you will be faced with the inevitable question;

Do you forgive the person(s)?

First and foremost, you must accept what forgiveness is NOT

  • Forgiveness does NOT mean you have pardoned or excused the person
  • Forgiveness does NOT mean you need to accept the person back into your life
  • Forgiveness does NOT mean you will forget what had happened
  • Forgiveness does NOT mean you will treat the person the same as before
  • Forgiveness is NOT something you do for the other person.

Forgiveness is something you do for yourself

What you must remember, is that it is YOU who is hurting.  By forgiving the person(s), you will be able to let go of your grievances and pain, so that you can allow yourself to heal and most importantly, to move on.  Forgiveness is letting go of resentments and freeing yourself from the unnecessary pain of reliving your hurt over and over again.

Click to view PragerU video on Forgiveness

There are 3 types of Forgiveness.

1. Exoneration

This is the most straight forward type of forgiving and closest to what we think of as ‘forgiveness’.  The incident was a genuine accident for which no fault can be assigned.  The person did NOT mean to hurt or realise that the action was hurtful to you and the person is truly sorry and takes full responsibility.  In this form of forgiving, both of you are able to restore the relationship to the full state of innocence prior to the incident.

2. Forbearance

This is a bit more complIcated because person only offers a partial apology or does not completely take full responsibility of the action.  You may feel that the apology is not sincere or not what you had hope to hear.  Nonetheless, you should accept forbearance if the relationship (whether work or friendship) matters to you.  Forbearance is patience and acceptance under trying circumstances in which you need to tolerate hardship with good grace.  So, it is a case of forgive but not forget.

3. Release

In some difficult cases, the person does not acknowledge he/she has done anything wrong and does not even feel the need to apologise to you.  Release does NOT exonerate the person nor does it require forbearance.  Instead of continuing to be weighed down by the hurt done to you, try to release negative thoughts and remove the bad feelings.  Even if you do not truly forgive the person or situation, release removes the burden of anger or hurt from your mind and allows you to move on with your life.

Forgiveness requires your complete willingness to forgive. Sometimes you can’t because the hurt was too deep or too painful.  Sometimes, you may feel that the person did not express the regret or apology sincerely.  Nonetheless, find a suitable place and time to be alone with your thoughts and follow these four steps to forgive even when it feels impossible.

  • Think about how the incident has upset you and how it made you feel.  Then accept that it had happened and acknowledge the reality
  • Think about what the incident has taught you and how you have grown as a result from it
  • Think about the other person and how her limitations or flaw in the person’s ability or personality may have contributed to the hurtful action
  • Then decide to fully forgive the person in your mind and heart.  You may or may not wish to express forgiveness directly to the person
  • Allow time for yourself to feel the emotions (whether it is hurt, disappointment, sadness or betrayal) and acknowledge them

This act of forgiving allows closure on whatever happened which hurt you. Although you may still remember the incident, the feeling of pain or hurt should gradually diminish with time.  The feeling of anger or grudge which has weighed you down, would finally be released and allow you to see joy and other wonderful things happening around and within your life.

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If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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