Learning how to forgive someone who hurt you can be extremely difficult, especially if that person plays an important role in your life and you value the relationship you share. It might feel easier to internalize your thoughts and feelings, but anger, hurt, and resentment have a tendency to fester, and can negatively impact your cardiovascular health and immune system, and increase feelings of stress and anxiety. Learning how to forgive is important for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being, and can help strengthen the relationship you have with yourself and others. Forgiveness sets you free, and we’re excited to share 7 tips and ideas to help you move forward when someone has hurt you.
How to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You
1. RECOGNIZE WHAT FORGIVENESS MEANS
Many people associate forgiveness with acceptance and reconciliation, and believe that in order to forgive someone, they need to condone the things they did or didn’t do. If you want to know how to forgive someone who hurt you, a great first step is to acknowledge that forgiveness doesn’t have to mean any of these things. You don’t need to accept the way someone treated you, and your relationship doesn’t need to return to the way it was if you don’t want it to. Forgiveness isn’t about making the other person feel better for what they did or how they treated you – it’s about freeing yourself from the mental, physical, and emotional anguish they have caused you.
2. ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL ALL THE FEELS
Many people have a tendency to sweep things under the rug in order to avoid conflict, and while this often feels easier in the short-term, unresolved hurt and anger end up festering and compounding over time. If you want to know how to forgive someone who hurt you, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable so you can acknowledge and work through your thoughts and feelings they’ve caused.
3. CONSIDER THE OTHER PERSON’S PERSPECTIVE
As you work through your feelings, try to consider the situation from the other person’s point of view. Did they act deliberately or maliciously? Was their behavior consistent with how they usually treat you, or was it in reaction to something else happening in their lives? Are they aware of how they made you feel? While considering the other side of the story won’t change what happened, sometimes it can help give you perspective as to why someone treated you a certain way, making it feel like less of a personal attack.
4. GIVE YOURSELF TIME
Learning how to forgive someone who hurt you may feel impossible when the memory of what they did (or did not do) is still fresh, but time has a way of putting things into perspective. Allow yourself space to calm down and properly process your thoughts and emotions so you can objectively evaluate how you’d like to move forward. Can the relationship be fixed? Do you need to set some boundaries? Or is ending the relationship the best course of action? Don’t make these decisions on a whim – allow yourself to ruminate and consider what’s best for your emotional and physical well-being.
5. BE THE BIGGER PERSON
One of the most challenging parts of learning how to forgive someone who hurt you is resisting the urge to punish them for what they did and how they made you feel. Try to remember that forgiveness isn’t about revenge. It’s about rising above and being the better person, which can be very difficult to do when someone has caused you pain. If you don’t believe the other person is worthy of your forgiveness, remind yourself that it isn’t about him or her. Forgiveness is about letting go of your anger so you can set yourself free.
6. FORGIVENESS DOESN’T MEAN ACCEPTANCE OR RECONCILIATION
I touched on this earlier, but wanted to call it out as a separate point as I think it’s incredibly important. Many people view forgiveness as a sign that they have accepted the indiscretions of others, and that their relationship has been fixed, but neither have to be true if you don’t want them to be. Forgiveness is about freeing yourself from the mental, physical, and emotional anguish someone else has caused you.
7. YOU CAN FORGIVE SOMEONE SILENTLY
If you want to know how to forgive someone who hurt you, my last tip is to remember that forgiveness doesn’t need to be a huge, over-the-top, public affair. If someone caused you pain you without realizing it and you want to avoid confrontation, or you’ve chosen to end your relationship but still need to let go for your own physical and emotional well-being so you can move forward, give yourself permission to forgive them silently.
If you are struggling to figure out how to forgive someone who hurt you, I hope the ideas in this post prove useful to you. Remember that forgivenesses doesn’t mean you accept or condone what the other person has done, and that it’s about freeing yourself from anger, hurt, and resentment. Allow yourself to feel all the feels, take as much time as you need, be the bigger person, and forgive silently if needed.
‘Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.’
–Jonathan Lockwood Huie