When Nelson Mandela was released after twenty years in a South African prison he explained, “We especially need to forgive each other, because when you intend to forgive, you heal part of the pain, but when you forgive you heal completely.” Instead of giving in to hatred and the desire for revenge, he understood what he wanted for South Africa and what he needed to do to achieve that. His ability to forgive was his overwhelming strength.
Pretty much everyone has been hurt by someone in one way or another, at some stage of their life. There are different ways to react to this hurt and although we can’t control what other people do to us, we are fully in charge of our reactions. You can harbor a bitter anger and resentment towards the wrong doer or you can choose to forgive them.
I have had a few situations in my life where I could have chosen to hold on to anger, but I figured that the only loser in this situation would be me, so I decided to forgive instead. It can be really difficult to truly forgive someone who has hurt you. It can feel like a sign of weakness, like you have let the other person ‘get away’ with their behavior. You might feel like you don’t want them to get the upper hand or that they don’t deserve forgiveness, you might enjoy feeling like the victim, or you may just not know how to forgive.
These 12 steps can help you with how to truly forgive someone:
1) Acknowledge what was done and how you feel about it
2) Look at things from the other persons perspective
3) Acknowledge that everyone can make mistakes
4) Understand it is you that is suffering if you hold on to the grudge
5) Acknowledge that you don’t need to condone the actions, just accept them
6) Realise it makes you stronger rather than weaker to forgive
7) Let go of any hurt and anger
8) Take responsibility for your own emotional wellbeing
9) Focus on the present not the past
10) Understand you can only control yourself, you cannot control not others
11) Focus on what you want for yourself and how you can make it happen rather than what others have done to you
12) Look for the positives that came from it – even terrible events can have some positive lessons
Forgiveness can close the door on what happened that hurt you. You will still remember the events, but you no longer need to be defined by them, enabling you to heal and move on with your life. It is not something you do for others, but for yourself.
I’d love to hear in the comments below if you have been able to forgive someone and how it made you feel.