The ex-partner who cheated on you, the person who assaulted you, the group of teenagers who bullied you, the parent that left you; all of these and other situations are extremely painful, but you cannot begin to move on if you’re still stuck in the past.
The Types of Forgiveness
- Forgiveness of self – Sometimes you do something that you cannot take back – you could have been the one cheating, you could have been the person who assaulted someone, you could have been the high school bully, you could have been the parent that left your child. We all make mistakes, and if we can’t change the past, why should we live in it? Forgiving yourself is the hardest thing to do, but we all deserve peace and accepting the past is the most important thing coming with peace.
- Forgiveness of others - This is what comes to mind when people think of ”forgiveness”. If not forgiving the person who hurt you in the past is keeping you from moving on with your life then it’s time to forgive them – not for them, but for you. You don’t actually have to say ”I forgive you,” but just forgive them in your head and not be angry when you think of them or what they did.
- Forgiveness of a situation - If something happened to you and you constantly dwell on it and think about it, sometimes it’s best to ”let it go”. Although it’s easier said than done, getting closure on that situation can help you to move on and be a happier person.
Why Should We Forgive?
- For Yourself. Forgiveness is not for the other person most of the time, it’s actually for you. Even if the person does not deserve your forgiveness, you deserve to have peace and happiness. Dwelling on the past does not help anyone, and moving on from something can make you look forward to the future instead of back to the past. Being a forgiving person, although hard to do, can make you happier.
- For them. Maybe if they genuinely are sorry and you want to give them a second chance – perhaps if a partner cheats on you or a friend said something bad about you – then there’s nothing wrong with that. Forgiving them can help you both to move on and work on your relationship together, making your relationship a lot healthier because of what you have gotten through. Some people who have made mistakes also need closure, and forgiving them will give them that, making you feel better too.
But why does forgiveness make you a happier person?
Well, because you have a lot less to stress about. If you are constantly thinking about something that someone did and how much it angered you, then that will be causing you stress and causing you to focus on things that you cannot change. Also, if you give someone your forgiveness it can help them to move on with your life – sometimes when you help someone to move on it can make you feel better, it can make you realise what a mature, grown up person you are and that you are a good person. Sometimes it’s for the best to at least be civil with the people who hurt you, especially if you are going to be around them a lot.
Why is forgiveness important?
Forgiving someone is usually for yourself instead of for them. When you don’t forgive someone and you live with the anger because of what people did, it hurts you, not them. Holding onto anger lets someone who hurt you know that you are still on their mind, that they have hurt you. It doesn’t matter if you tell someone you forgive them or if you just forgive them in your mind, it’s still forgiveness. Not forgiving someone is just holding onto unwanted anger – like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It doesn’t work. You’re only hurting yourself by not forgiving someone.
So, how do you forgive?
- Think of what their actions taught you. Maybe if you had a parent leave you it may have taught you that when you have a child you need to be there no matter what. Maybe if you had been sexually assaulted, bullied, etc. in the past it may have made you want to stand up for others who are going through the same. Basically, what you went through made you a better person, right? Well, if that’s true then turn from blaming them to thanking them – people who try to hurt you are angry when they find that they have actually helped you! In some ways, you should be thanking them.
- Think of what happened through their perspective. How you remember what they did is probably very different to how they remember it. They can probably justify it more than you can because they know the reason for what they did. Try to think of what happened through their perspective – for example, people who bully others usually do it because they are feeling insecure themselves. Sometimes they can’t deal with their unhappiness so they make other people unhappy. Some people who hurt others have mental problems or anger problems, think about what their reason could have been.
- Don’t live in the past. Try to think more about the future than the past, sometimes therapy can help with this but it’s not impossible to do it yourself. You can’t just decide that you are going to forget the past, it’s a process, but deciding to try to forget the past is the beginning, the first step. Try to think more about what you are looking forward to in the future – convince yourself that you can’t change the past and that it doesn’t matter anymore. What’s done is done!