How to Forgive, Even When It's Hard

Have you tried to forgive someone who has done you wrong and never apologised?
It can be hard and sometimes an almost impossible task. But also one of the most important parts of self care. 
As cliche as it sounds, forgiveness is important for YOU; it is more important for the person forgiving because it is that person who is holding onto a lot of negative emotions. Just like holding up a glass full of water, these emotions get heavier and more tiring the longer we choose to hold onto it.
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” – Lewis B. Smedes
We don’t have to forget what happened but we can separate ourselves from the negativity that the situation has brewed within us. If we don't, these experiences will subconsciously shape the way we behave and interact with others ( hurt people, hurt people).
Science Behind Forgiveness
Forgiveness has massive effects on our cognitive ability and hugely impacts our everyday life. A 2019 study breaks down forgiveness into two types:
  • Decisional Forgiveness: Taking an active decision to reinforce positive behaviours towards the person who wronged you, even if we still resent them. This can be as simple as sending memes or hanging out with that person. 
  • Emotional Forgiveness: Genuine replacement of negative feelings with that of love and empathy. 
Emotional forgiveness has a true impact on cognitive ability and emotional peace. However, truly forgiving someone can be extremely hard. 
How do we truly let go? The answer lies in the power of empathy. 
When we are hurt, it is first important to recognise and accept that we are filled with negative emotions - anger, frustration, distrust and so much more. If we have to release ourselves from these emotions then we have to understand what caused the other person to wrong you the way they did. 
Were they wronged in some ways as children? Have they been going through a hard time? Have their circumstances got the better of them? 
We have to be empathetic towards them and everything they have been through. We truly have let go when we can imagine ourselves embracing the person who we want to forgive. Often this thought makes us want to cringe, but know that this is an important step for our own self care. 
Remember what we discussed at the beginning - hurt people, hurt people. Most people who have hurt us, have been hurt by others in the past. When we keep that hurt within us, it causes us to be the one hurting the next person. However, we have the power to cut that cycle by forgiving. 
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