How to Forgive and Forget

Someone has really hurt you and you find yourself feeling so sad, angry, or bitter that you can barely concentrate. Any time you see that person – or even just any time you close your eyes – all you can do is replay what happened and wallow in all of your sad feelings. If you want to move on with your life and learn to move past the pain, then you have to make a choice to forgive and forget. Easier said than done, huh? Read on to find out how to do it and see for yourself.

EditPart 1 of 3: Changing Your Perspective

  1. Forgive and Forget Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    Let go of resentment. If you want to ever really forgive the person who wronged you, then you have to kick all of those bitter and resentful feelings to the curb. Let go of the part of you that hates the other person or wishes him or her harm or failure; if you hang on to these negative feelings, then they will plague your own life and make it hard for you to find happiness, so the sooner you see that letting go of your resentment is the right thing to do, the better.

    • Sure, the person really hurt you, but if you waste energy in resenting the person, then you’ll only be letting that person cause you even more harm. Take the higher ground and let go of those nasty feelings.
    • It’s better if you admit that you’re feeling resentment first instead of being in denial about it. Talk about your feelings to a friend. Write them down. Do what you have to do to get them out there so you can get rid of them faster.
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    Consider the scheme of things. In the moment, you may feel that the person absolutely ruined your life or made you feel absolutely miserable. Okay, so maybe one of your friends forgot to invite you to her party; maybe your significant other said something hurtful to you in the heat of the moment. Could they have done something a lot worse? Will whatever they did really cause you pain in another few weeks – or in another few months? Chances are that sure, you’ve been hurt, but that it’s not the end of the world.

    • It may feel like the end of the world, just then. But if you give yourself time to cool off, you’ll see that it’s not so.
    • Take a step back and look at your life. Filled with mostly good things, right? Was the thing the person did to you really bad enough to put all of that in jeopardy?
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    See if there’s a lesson that can be learned. Think of yourself as a student instead of a victim. It’s convenient, and even safe, to think of yourself as a victim when someone has wronged you, but instead, try to put a positive spin on the situation and see if there’s something that you can really learn from the experience. Maybe you’ll learn not to be so trusting. Maybe you’ll learn not to get into a situation where your gut tells you get away. Even if you’re feeling hurt or upset, the situation can shape your future interactions, and may help you not get hurt as you move forward.

    • At the time, it’s easy to think that the experience has only been a bad one. But if you truly process what happened, it can lead to something positive in the future.
    • If you accept that there’s a lesson to be learned, then you’ll be less likely to resent the person for hurting you.
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    Put yourself in the person’s shoes. Try to see the situation from that person’s perspective. Maybe your boyfriend didn’t tell you that he took a weekend trip with his friends because he knows you’re prone to jealousy. Maybe your best friend didn’t tell you about her new relationship because she’s afraid you’ll judge her. Or maybe the person who hurt you really didn’t mean to do it and is feeling really, really horrible about everything that happened.

    • Remember that there are two sides to every story. You may feel like the complete victim, but you might have hurt the person, too.
    • It may feel silly to feel sorry for someone who messed up. But think of the times when you’ve hurt people and really, really regretted your actions. There’s a chance that the person is feeling even worse than you are.
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    Think of all of the good things the person did for you. You may be really hurt by whatever your mother, sister, significant other, or friend did to you, but try to think about all of the great things that person did for you too. You may want to get dramatic and think that the entire relationship was a huge mistake and that every interaction with the person who hurt you has caused you nothing but pain, but that is rarely the case. Try warming up to the person by thinking of all the times that person really was a good friend, support system, or shoulder to cry on.

    • Make a list of all of the great things the person did for you and all of the memories you shared. Refer to it when you’re feeling angry or resentful if you need to.
    • Hey, if you’ve thought long and hard about all of the good things the person has done for you and you really can’t come up with anything, then maybe you really are better off without the person in your life. But this will rarely happen. If the person didn’t do that much for you to begin with, then you wouldn’t be so angry after he or she hurt you, would you?
  6. Forgive and Forget Step 6.jpg
    See if you’ve ever wronged the person. Look at the flipside. Remember that time two years ago when you accidentally told your best friend you thought she was a follower? Or that time that you completely forgot your sister’s birthday and went drinking with your friends instead? Chances are that you’ve caused some pain in the past, and the person managed to get over it. Relationships are long and complicated, and it’s likely that pain has been caused by both sides.

    • Remind yourself of how you felt after you hurt the person– and how much you wanted to be forgiven.
  7. Forgive and Forget Step 7.jpg
    Know that forgiving actually relieves stress. Studies have shown that being unforgiving and dwelling on the injustices that were done to you can actually raise your blood pressure, increase your heart rate, make your muscles more tense, and lead you to be much more stressed out than if you worked on forgiving the person instead. Cultivating feelings of forgiveness has been shown to make people feel calmer and more emotionally stable. So, if you want to be selfish about it, then know that forgiving the person will actually make you feel better physically and mentally. And who doesn’t want that?[1]

    • The longer you hold on to your angry feelings, the worse your body and mind will feel. And why do that to yourself?
    • Remember that forgiveness really is a choice. You can decide to start forgiving, and to stop harboring all of those feelings of ill-will in your body, as soon as you want. Yes, forgiveness is a process, but there’s no need to hold it off.

One thought on “How to Forgive and Forget

  1. Lana dear,
    It’s like you read my mind.
    This post is exactly what I need, after being completely alienated by a friend. I’ve been trying to forgive her, but I’ve been struggling to do so.
    Now I feel that she can continue to hate me and feel resentment towards me, but I want her to know that I have forgiven her and have no hard feelings towards here.

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