shutterstock_155852234-[Converted]How do you forgive someone who has wronged you?  Mistreated you, demeaned you, left you out, took something from you or lied to you or about you?  The real question is, how do you not?

How do you live with the feelings of resentment, humiliation, anger and fear?  The truth is, longevity demands that these feelings be released through forgiveness.

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”  Mahatma Gandhi

The person who offended you may not be worthy of your forgiveness, but you are.  You deserve to let go of it all.  It doesn’t mean that you should do so without boundaries.  Forgiveness does not mean letting them do it again.  You can protect yourself and still forgive.

We all have terrible pains that can be released through forgiveness.  Sometimes you just forget how important it is.  I had one incident…2 years it bothered me.  Then one day I was praying…it wasnt’ thoughtful prayer either…it was just praying- I thought I was praying without feeling…and it just came into my head…forgive them…and that second, I did.  It put me into a place of relief, understanding and love and it took me out of a place of loss, hurt, shame and humiliation.  I forgave myself too.  Sometimes you need to accept your part in it too…and let it go.

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

Now, I do a review, because these things can creep up on you and you don’t realize you need to forgive unless you deliberately take inventory.  As I write this, I need to forgive a few people this year…a couple doctors, a radiologist, a family member and …I think that is it.  It is unhealthy to carry this stuff around.

Take these steps to forgive:

  1. Think of the person you need to forgive.  Look at the situation realistically, including what part you take in it.
  2. Look at your feelings thoroughly and honestly.
  3. Look at what may have caused your offender to commit the act you need to forgive.
  4. What can you do to prevent it from happening again?
  5. Forgive…let it go.

There are other people, you make allowance for.  If you aren’t terribly connected, you face it at the time, see the reasons for other peoples actions and you forgive and let it go.  We ran into a couple instances of people stealing our programs and even copying them or ideas.  I forgive them, but that doesn’t mean I let them do it.  That is a good example of forgiving with boundaries.  This type of thing truly does hurt you to hold on to – more than the offender.  Often, they don’t even see that it is wrong.

It is important to forgive your loved ones.  Resentments ruin marriages, friendships, family relationships.  We love these people unconditionally.  Someone I love very much told me “you have to take the bad with the good…and just be grateful there is a lot more good than bad”.  I love my children unconditionally.  I love my parents and my husband unconditionally.  That doesn’t mean that you let them do anything…that is where boundaries come in.

There is some debate on the value of forgiveness for victims of sexual abuse.  According to Psychology Today, there may be one exception:

Mustering up genuine compassion for those who have wronged us, instead of allowing anger toward them to eat away at us, is the course of action recommended by most psychologists. An exception to the belief that burying the hatchet brings peace to the soul may be sexual abuse: Some victims of these crimes are empowered when given permission to not forgive.

Is there someone you need to forgive?  Try the five steps above.

Is there something in your life that forgiveness released for you?  Share it below.

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21 Comments

  1. Katy

    This is great. And especially when the person who has wronged, mistreated and demeaned me, is ME! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Katy! It is amazing isn’t it! Thanks for telling us.

      Reply
  2. Sheila

    Thank you, Cathy, I like the idea of taking periodic inventory of whether there are people in my life I need to forgive. You are right in that sometimes those feelings can creep up on you or add up over time because of not providing the time, attention and forgiveness in the moment. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Thanks Sheila.

      Reply
  3. Christine

    My friend and I was just discussing this the other week. “You can’t be truly happy if you can’t forgive the people around you”. For her that was a new idea, and I am so happy she got something to think about. At the moment I don’t hold any grudges against anybody, except myself now and then. And I know the road to happiness is to let those thoughts go and say It’s OK, I forgive. Thank you Cathy for an important reminder!

    Reply
    • Cathy

      Thank you Christine. It is really nice that you have a friend to talk to like that!

      Reply
  4. Yvette

    Cathy, forgiveness is hard to do, especially when the person has done wrong by you. But, you make it sound so easy to do and, yup, its a necessary evil if you want to be happy and in peace with yourself. You don’t have to speak to the person…LOL, but you can forgive them and not hold any grudges, because all that resentment is negative energy and we don’t want that in our lives.

    Reply
  5. Bianca

    Great post, Cathy. I found that whenever I forgive, I’m so much more at peace – no more feelings of tension and negative energy. I feel much lighter when I let go of the past and focus on the NOW.

    Reply
  6. Pam Pearson

    Cathy – In my forgiveness practice it’s key for me to remember that by forgiving someone I am not necessarily approving of their behavior or action, just forgiving them. One big one for me was a close friend was killed by a drunk/drugged driver. I forgive him for his actions. I don’t approve of them or agree with them, but I forgave him because he was a sick alcoholic/addict who needed help. Forgiving helps me to heal. Holding on to resentment only hurts me. Bless and release I say.

    Reply
  7. Melissa

    Love this!! It’s so freeing to forgive. It opens doors to new opportunities and allows for moving forward in other areas of our lives. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Christie

    Great post Cathy. I have a few old incidents that need clearing out. Will give this a try!

    Reply
  9. Vanessa Cunningham

    Great post! Many people tend to hold grudges which hardens the heart. Life is too short, it’s better to forgive and move on.

    Reply
  10. Johanna

    So much wise advice in this post, Cathy! Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Jocelyn Gordon

    Thank you for this insightful post especially your highlight that for longevity, forgiveness is essential. Yes.

    Resentments, regrets and grudges hold psychic weight. We are liberated when we release this tension.

    I notice that I can hold disappointments towards men. Perhaps this is a milder register of resentment. My practice is to notice the disappointment, acknowledge what I’m feeling/felt, and then thank them (energetically/internally and or directly) for how they have shown up, all they have shared and what I have learned from them.

    Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on this and to share here.

    Reply
  12. hayleyhobson

    Forgiveness is a huge one. I need to seriously sit with the magnitude of everything you just said.

    Thanks, Cathy, you always inspire and I appreciate your thought provoking blogs.

    Reply
  13. Wendy

    I do try to forgive – but it doesnt mean I forget. I do choose though to let it go – I have just learned from the encounters that cause me to have to forgive to protect myself from future incidents happening when people come to me with the same energy not to engage.

    Reply
    • Dina Delicce

      Forgiveness is not about forgetting or telling the other person it’s okay. It’s about protecting yourself from drinking the poison of resentment. What’s the quote … don’t drink poison and expect the other person to be injured? Anyway, Wendy … I love what you said about recognizing the same energy in future encounters with people. Thank you for that.

      Reply
  14. Shelly

    I’m a very forgiving person by nature, but I’m like Wendy.. it’s not always easy to forget. Thank goodness for my faith. It gets me by when I’m reluctant to forgive others as I know that I have been forgiven by HIS grace.

    Reply
    • Cathy

      So right Shelly, faith is big.

      Reply
  15. Dina Delicce

    Great post! I am very good at forgiving everyone … except myself. It’s easy for me to not hold resentment for others. But, not holding onto anger for the things I regret, that’s a different story! But, it’s a journey. Trying to live in the moment more often!

    Reply
  16. Cathy

    Great idea Terri. I am going to try that…it adds one more element to it. Thank you.

    Reply

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