6 Ways to Forgive People Who Hurt You -- and Why You Should

Take Charge on 04.17.12
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Photo: Juliejordanscott/Creative Commons

How  are you with forgiveness? I'm not talking about the thing you say when you've had a run in with someone; I'm talking about really releasing the hurt that resides deep inside. Can you do that? How does one go about letting go? I think it can be done and furthermore, must be.

About six years ago, my world was turned upside down. I had a big job that paid well. Everything was going swimmingly until that one December morning when it was all taken away (read: I was fired). Now anyone who's ever worked in TV knows that being fired is an occupational hazard. That doesn't make it any easier when it happens to you.  

I had a lot of other things going on in my life at the time; I was scheduled to have a mastectomy a few weeks later and it was just days before Christmas. That was an pretty awful time, as were the days that followed.

For some reason I was thinking about that time today and can honestly say, as difficult as it was, I was able to forgive. So, how did I get to this place? 

1. Connecting to a higher power.  No matter what you believe, most philosophies speak of the power of forgiveness. Our higher powers are benevolent and forgiving and we should be, too. 

2. Letting time heal all wounds. Emotional hurts are almost like when you have an open wound: it hurts, rubs against things, dirt gets in it. Then time allows a protective scab to form over it and you don't bristle when someone rubs up against it. After more time passes, an eventual scar is formed and while it may not look the same as the skin around it, it's stronger in some ways, too.

3. Living your best life. I recently heard a skewed version of an old classic, "Living well is the best revenge, but it isn't the ONLY revenge." As funny as that is, it isn't entirely correct. Living your best life keeps thoughts of the person who wronged you at bay, enabling you to forgive them for no other reason than you don't want that negativity taking up space in your life.

4. Find the lesson. I think of every single situation, even the painful ones, as an opportunity to learn. That's important so as not to repeat it again. Forget the grievance, remember the lesson.

5. Write a letter. Telling someone off in most cases just results in hurt feelings and no one really being heard. Writing a letter can be a great step toward forgiveness, even if you never send it. Once you have purged yourself on paper, you can move on, and that is what forgiveness is all about, isn't it?

6. Take a deep breath and then take responsibility. There are times we hold grudges and keep ourselves from forgiving because we don't see the big picture. Taking responsibility for someone doing you wrong takes strength and introspection, but if you can see your part in the problem,  even if it is just trusting the wrong person, it might help you let go of that hurt a bit more. 

Forgiving someone releases you, if for no other reason than to give yourself the freedom to remove thoughts of someone who isn't thinking about you. Otherwise, you are giving them more of you than they deserve.

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