One of the traits I admire about school-age children is their ability to forgive. A child will have an argument with another child in class or an actual fist fight on the playground. Then, within minutes they’ve forgiven each other, and all is well. It’s simply amazing! If we were able to forgive and forget as kids, why is it so hard to do it as adults?
We all have the basic human need to love and be loved, trust, and feel like we’re a part of a community. When that love or trust is broken, our first reaction is to protect our heart. How can you possibly forgive when you’ve been hurt, maybe even crushed, and feel broken?
Here are 10 ways to forgive when you can’t forget.
Is Forgiveness Possible?
Usually, forgiveness is always possible. But it isn’t always easy. When you forgive, you release the feelings of anger, resentment, and blame associated with a hurtful act. In some situations, it’s an easy decision. And in others, it may be more serious, and take years to work through. Ultimately, true forgiveness is a choice.
As mothers, sisters, and wives, and daughters, extending forgiveness is one of the most precious gifts we can give to ourselves. Why? When you forgive, it sets you free and provides life-changing benefits.
When you forgive others, you can expect many of the following benefits:
- healthier relationships
- better mental health
- less anxiety, stress, and anger
- fewer symptoms of depression
- and many more!
The first step within the forgiveness process is to process what happened. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling. Do you have someone trustworthy to talk to about the situation? It will help you to understand what happened. Once you’ve processed everything, focus on your needs.
1). Focus on your needs. What do you need now to take care of yourself? Stay involved in your normal daily routine as much as possible. And, ask for what you need from others.
2). Be Patient. The forgiveness and healing process takes time. Be careful not to rush yourself. If you want to forgive, but still have vivid memories, make a deal with yourself. Try something like every time I think about this I’ll check in on this person or put one dollar in this jar. Being patient with yourself is important.
3). Forgive yourself first. Don’t beat yourself up about anything from your past. You deserve to be forgiven, and you are worthy. Before you can forgive someone else, you have to extend that special gift to yourself first. You deserve to be free on a more personal level by showing yourself compassion and grace. When you forgive yourself for past mistakes, you will release any unnecessary guilt or shame you’ve been carrying.
Life is a journey, and learning its daily lessons is how we grow into the person we want to become.
4). Don’t dwell on negative memories. When you’re tempted to think about negative memories, think about your favorite song or food to cheer yourself up. Immediately get rid of negative thoughts or memories before they slowly erode your self-esteem and self-worth. Instantly do something else to push those thoughts away. Try to do things like laundry, go for a walk, watch tv, listen to music, or call a friend.
5). Practice positive self-talk. When a negative thought enters your mind, immediately counteract it by saying something positive instead. For example, if your negative thought is “I’m so stupid.” You could reply by saying, “I’m actually very smart because I did this and this today.”
Also, look in the mirror every day and give yourself an honest compliment. If you don’t initially believe it, after several days, you will begin to. Say something like, “I like your pretty brown eyes.” Or, “your hair looks nice today.”
I Want To Forgive Someone But…
6). Don’t force it. If you’re not ready to forgive, don’t allow anyone to pressure you into feeling obligated to do so. Depending on the severity of the mistake, how many times you’ve been hurt, and how fragile you were before, it could take months or years to forgive someone. The important thing is that you’re trying to do the work to improve.
7). Avoid being consumed. It’s easy to become consumed by anything because we’re constantly checking-in on it. Our family and friends may unknowingly present opportunities for us to become further consumed. For example, the person who hurt you may work at the mall and your sister wants you to go to that store to pick something up.
In addition, avoid rehashing the details surrounding the mistake because you will relive it which may increase your anxiety level.
8). Acknowledge your growth. What did you learn about yourself as a result of what happened? Appreciate and celebrate it because it shows that you learned something valuable from a bad situation. It also shows that you became a better person as a result of it. Our trials make us stronger.
9). Journal your thoughts. When you think about the situation, how do you feel about it? Do you feel angry, sad, anxious, or depressed? It’s okay to be flooded with different emotions. It’s a great idea to write about them in order to sort them out. And, it will also give you a safe place to vent without judgment.
10). Take a break. Maybe it’s time for you to take a break from the issue. Is it negatively affecting your mental and emotional health, or causing anxiety? If so, take a break from it. Then, maybe you’ll return with a fresh perspective and new insight.
You Can Forgive When You Can’t Forget
When you’ve been hurt, forgiving is the last thing on your mind. But, it’s very hard to do when you’re ready but can’t forget what happened. Although it’s possible, it will take determination and work to do it. It will likely be a process that takes more time. Give yourself a break by showing more grace, and you will be on the road to extending true forgiveness.
In the next article, we’ll learn more about the turning point you reach in your life when it’s time to let the resentment go and move on. Do you want to forgive someone, but can’t? I would love to hear your thoughts.