This step is about addressing your own shortcomings. Recall a time when you treated someone harshly and were forgiven. How did it make you feel? Recognizing this helps you realize that forgiveness is an altruistic gift that you can give to others.
Commit yourself to forgive. For instance, write about your forgiveness in a journal or a letter that you don't send or tell a friend. Finally, hold on to your forgiveness. This step is tough because memories of the event will often recur.
Peace is built on the decisions we make and the actions we take in the small moments of our life. Newsletter Sign Up. He will deal with your enemies. My first thought was Cathy. We ask for gender and age to assign you the appropriate mentor. Now take a look again at the person you are angry at.
When the bad feelings arise, remind yourself that you have forgiven and ultimately you want good for the offender. If needed, revisit your commitment by reading your journal entries or letters, or recalling the shared conversation with a friend. Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content.
Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root.
If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. Some people are naturally more forgiving than others.
But even if you're a grudge holder, almost anyone can learn to be more forgiving. Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you might:. As you let go of grudges, you'll no longer define your life by how you've been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding. Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if the person who's hurt you doesn't admit wrong. If you find yourself stuck:. If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation.
This isn't always the case, however. Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you.
In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn't. Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn't the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.
The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you've done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly. If you're truly sorry for something you've said or done, consider admitting it to those you've harmed.
To forgive, avoid ruminating on thoughts of being wronged. Rather, trust the power of forgiveness to heal the hurt and pain. By holding on to. Forgiveness means giving up the suffering of the past and being willing to forge ahead with far greater potential for inner freedom. Besides the reward of letting go of a painful past, there are powerful health benefits that go hand-in-hand with the practice of forgiveness.
Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can't force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. And, yes, a language of forgiveness.
The family of the milkman who killed the five girls released the following statement to the public:. Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.
We are filled with sorrow for all of our Amish neighbors whom we have loved and continue to love. We know that there are many hard days ahead for all the families who lost loved ones, and so we will continue to put our hope and trust in the God of all comfort, as we all seek to rebuild our lives. How could the whole Amish group manifest such an expression of forgiveness?
It was because of their faith in God and trust in His word, which is part of their inner beings. They see themselves as disciples of Christ and want to follow His example. Hearing of this tragedy, many people sent money to the Amish to pay for the health care of the five surviving girls and for the burial expenses of the five who were killed. As a further demonstration of their discipleship, the Amish decided to share some of the money with the widow of the milkman and her three children because they too were victims of this terrible tragedy.
Forgiveness is not always instantaneous as it was with the Amish. When innocent children have been molested or killed, most of us do not think first about forgiveness. Our natural response is anger. Sidney Simon, a recognized authority on values realization, has provided an excellent definition of forgiveness as it applies to human relationships:. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves. Most of us need time to work through pain and loss.
We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness. Some hold grudges for a lifetime, unaware that courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic.