How to Forgive Someone and Why You Should Forgive Others

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is a complicated topic. For some people, it evokes many negative emotions. Why should I forgive them when they hurt me so badly? They don’t deserve my forgiveness! These are the thoughts many people get when they think about forgiving someone. And there is more than a grain of truth to it.

Forgiveness is a process that can be very important and valuable, but it needs to come from within. It is also not a process that is focused on the one who wronged us; when we forgive, we don’t do it for then. We do it for ourselves. Let’s explore how we forgive and why we do.

Forgiveness is about release

When we hold a grudge, we keep the person with ourselves at all times. We carry the weight of the things that were done to us and keep giving it our attention, energy, and time. A grudge requires maintenance and keeps making us angry whenever something brings related thoughts to mind.

This means that we waste a lot of ourselves on maintaining a grudge over a thing that is no longer happening. By definition, it’s focused on something that happened in the past. But it continues to consume us. Forgiveness facilitates release, and we can let it go and stop making the situation or the person a part of our lives.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting

A common fear associated with forgiveness is the idea that forgiving means letting the person back into one’s life or allowing the self to be hurt again. But this doesn’t have to happen.

Forgiveness is an internal process that involves the self. Maybe, you also want to talk to the person or people involved to tell them. But that’s optional. If the person can put you at risk or if they continue to hurt you, you are entitled to putting distance, getting a restraining order, putting them in jail, even. You don’t need to let them back or let the damage not be restored. However, you can pursue the goal of keeping yourself safe or pursue justice without the emotional pain that comes from a grudge.

Forgiveness is a process

Forgiveness, like grief, is a process. It’s not about a single act. It begins with a decision: are you willing to forgive this person or people? Sometimes, the answer is not yet, and that is fine. It can be a part of the process.

Forgiveness involves making the choice to forgive and allowing yourself to let go of the negative emotions. It means remembering the situation without ruminating on the events and how unfair they were, even if they were truly unfair. It is a process of reducing the intensity of the emotions you feel until you are able to simply remember and think without being overcome by negative feelings.

Forgiveness can improve your well-being

Forgiveness might or might not have a positive impact on the person who wronged you, but it is sure to have a positive influence on you. It can help improve your health and well-being, emotionally and physically.

Forgiveness can be an antidote to the negative effects of too much anger and frustration and offer the opportunity to feel better. It’s linked to positive feelings that can help your body relax.

Forgiveness can set you free

There are people who are hard to forgive because of how much they harmed you. That’s fine. However, in some situations, keeping a grudge is keeping you linked to those people and that situation.

Forgiveness means severing that link and letting yourself be free and construct a new life that is different. It means not being still emotionally caught up in discussions and events that have already passed. Instead, it frees up a lot of your emotional resources to deal with other things and focus on other things.

You are never obligated to forgive. What’s more, forgiveness should never mean you let someone back into your life or give them a chance to harm you. It’s an internal process that allows you to set your emotions free from situations in the past and focus on the present instead. It releases you from the harm that others have done and allows you to feel liberated.