We all experience love in one form or another. We all experience hurt and pain. It’s part of the human condition.
Likewise, people can be insensitive sometimes. They say or do things either intentionally or unintentionally that hurt others. At times, a careless action or critical remark can really hurt us, especially if we attach too much importance or meaning to it. The more closely connected we are to the person, the deeper the pain.
An infraction that is relatively minor or insignificant to one person may be devastatingly painful to another. For some, resentments are difficult to release. The tighter the hold, the harder it may be to let go.
When ruminated about over a period of time, a resentment can transform into a grudge. If these negative feelings are left unresolved within ourselves, they can lead to unhappiness, bitterness, and permanent unforgiveness. Research has shown that prolonged anger can have devastating effects on our health and longevity.
Although we may feel justified in our anger, what can we do to stop feeling the pain and upset feelings that the hurt has caused? Not every infraction requires forgiveness. However, if the hurt is personal, profoundly deep, and seems unjust, the following ideas may help you begin to release your anger and bring back a sense of peace and joy.
1. Decide to Forgive Yourself
Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can at any given moment. Try not to replay the “what-ifs.” Validate your feelings by acknowledging your anger and pain. Anger is a helpful emotion that signals to us that something is wrong and needs to be corrected.
When you are ready, make a conscious choice to release the anger and hurt and let go of the past. Be kind to yourself and set yourself free from hurt. Being able to forgive solves many problems.
2. Decide to Forgive Others
Everyone is imperfect and flawed. Everyone makes mistakes every day. Everyone is doing the best they can given their personal life history and the impact that history has had on them.
Make a conscious decision to let go of offensive words and behavior. Decide to not let what others do or say have power over you. Stand firm in your truth.
3. Redirect Your Thoughts
What we believe may become true for us. Thoughts are powerful, either positive or negative. Dwelling on past hurts only serves to reinjure ourselves.
Challenge your negative thoughts and reframe them in a positive and more balanced way. Bitterness can cloud your vision and alter your perspective. Be truthful to yourself and allow yourself to be aware of how you may have hurt others in similar ways.
4. Change Your Perspective
Allow yourself to see things from a more positive perspective. Try being able to see the person or situation in a new light. Look for things that the person is doing right rather than emphasizing their flaws.
5. Live in the Present
Realize that the past is in the past. You only have the present moment to live in. Focus on what is going well right now, and try not to allow negative thoughts about the past to creep into your consciousness.
Our existence provides us both positive and negative experiences. Life offers us numerous opportunities to be hurt and offended by others. It can be difficult to let go of the past, forgive ourselves, forgive others, and try to experience life differently, but the benefits of forgiveness far outweigh the benefits of unforgiveness. Working toward creating a happier, more peaceful existence through forgiveness is worth the price.
If you’re struggling with forgiveness, contact a licensed therapist for compassionate support and guidance.
Smedes, L. B. (1984). Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
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