It can be hard to forgive when someone does something to you – lie, cheat, treat you wrongly. But it can also be hard to carry around the weight of the wrongdoing. Many people want to start fresh for the new year or simply want to lead a life of anger to happiness. Whatever your reason might be, you need to know the proper steps to forgiveness.
Do you want to get rid of the burden of anger and work towards forgiveness? Then you need to keep reading. Below are the five critical steps to true forgiveness. Follow this path to forgiveness and lead a less stressful life.
What is True Forgiveness?
Before we dive into the path to forgiveness, it’s essential to understand what forgiveness truly is. Plenty of people will group forgive and forget into the same category. But that’s simply not the case.
In fact, the definition of forgiveness is a conscious decision to release feelings of resentment towards someone (or multiple people) who have done you wrong. This does not mean you forget what has happened. You’re simply putting forgiveness in front of it, leading to less anger and a possible rekindling of a relationship.
Five Steps to Forgiveness
Now that you know what forgiveness truly means, are you ready to dive into the process and steps to forgiveness? Before we get started, let us be clear. This might be more challenging for some people and situations than others. But if you follow the steps correctly, you should reach the final step: true forgiveness.
1. Acknowledge and Understand
One of the most significant resistance to forgiveness factors is that you don’t feel ready. You haven’t ultimately come to terms with how you feel about the situation. You’re undeniably feeling hurt, angry, and sad, and those feelings continue to meddle in your mind and emotions.
And you know what? That’s perfectly normal. You will have feelings of resentment and pain when someone has wronged you. But you need to tell yourself that these feelings are normal, and they should be worked through.
That said, focus on yourself and your emotions first. We’re sure you’re wondering, at this point, how to let go of resentment. Well, the first step is to come to terms with it. Find ways to remove these feelings from your life. For example, writing them down, talking them out, or even drawing a picture about how you feel.
The second half of acknowledging and understanding is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. While there is never an “okay” reason to treat someone poorly, you can better forgive someone if you try to understand why they might have done it. Hint – it’s rarely your fault, so take that out of the equation.
2. Learn and Take Your Time
Now that you’ve worked through your feelings and are no longer struggling with feelings of resentment, anger, or sadness (or a combination of all three), it’s time to start the learning process.
Working through your feelings doesn’t do too good unless you learn from the entire situation. For example, maybe you placed your trust in the wrong hands. Why did you do it? Why did you think they were trustworthy? What things should you do in the future to avoid these circumstances?
Learning from the experience can help you point out future behaviors that may be detrimental to you and your mental health.
Don’t forget to take plenty of time with this step (and the previous step). Forgiveness shouldn’t be rushed. Trying to dive into forgiveness without taking the proper steps and time for forgiveness will lead to failure.
3. Let it Go
No, we’re not talking about the song from the hit Disney movie “Frozen” (although listening to some tunes can help you relax and think about possibly forgiving someone). We’re talking about letting go of the anger, sadness, and negative emotions related to the wrongdoing.
Essentially, you need to start fresh with a blank slate. You should be able to revisit the situation in your mind and feel confident that any negative emotions are gone, and you’re okay with forgiving this person for what they’ve done.
Remember – if you’re holding onto the burden of anger, you won’t be able to give true forgiveness in the long run. Speaking to the person will likely bring up the emotions – unless you’ve worked past them.
The last step to forgiveness is to forgive. There are many ways to do this, which can involve the other person or not. Sometimes, it’s enough to forgive in your mind and not let the burden be a part of your life story any longer. This can lead to a happier life overall as you move forward.
You can also involve the individual who hurt you. You can tell them you’ve forgiven them for what they’ve done, either through text message, a phone call, or asking to meet in person. The goal of this would likely be to move on to rekindling the relationship, whether it was a family member, friend, or romantic partner.
Sometimes, it’s just simply burying the hatchet, so to speak. Inform the person that you have fully forgiven them but are not interested in bringing them back into your life. There is nothing wrong with this. They may be hurt that they no longer have a place in your life story, but at least they’ll know that you no longer have feelings of resentment towards them.
5. Carry Forgiveness into the Rest of Your Life
Now you know the steps to forgiveness. Pretty simple, right? We’re not entirely done yet, though. The final step to true forgiveness is to become a forgiving person. Take these steps into your everyday life, and you won’t have to struggle with the burden of anger or feelings of resentment ever again.
How Does the Bible Say to Forgive?
Some people may have an easier time knowing what the Bible says about forgiveness. If this sounds like you, check out a few of the best Bible verses about forgiveness. These may be the final push to help you with true forgiveness.
- Matthew 6:14 – “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
- Colossians 3:13 – “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
- Matthew 18:21-22 – “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ “
- Matthew 6:15 – “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Other Religions’ Take on Forgiveness
There are other religions that might look at forgiveness differently. For example, Buddhists believe you should forgive others so that you can have peace of mind. When you let go of the wrongdoings that were done to you by another person, you can allow yourself to be free. If you’re looking at Islam, the best course of action is always forgiveness. It is the prerequisite for genuine peace. The following quote from Buddha and verse from the Qur’an might give you another perspective from these religions on how to look at forgiveness.
- “Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” -Buddha
- “Although the just penalty for an injustice is an equivalent to retribution, those who pardon and maintain righteousness are rewarded by God. He does not love the unjust.” (Qur’an 42:40)
What Are the Three Types of Forgiveness?
Essentially, there are three types of forgiveness – exoneration, release, and forbearance. Forbearance is the best option and is described above. It’s the process of learning, healing, and forgiving with the possibility of rekindling the relationship. Exoneration is more of a “forgive and forget” quick approach, and release is forgiving someone even when they don’t deserve it.
Holding a grudge can negatively impact your life. One great way to get rid of feelings of resentment and pain (both mental and physical pain, at times) is to actually follow these steps to forgiveness and forgive. The process starts with acknowledging your feelings, learning from them, and eventually forgiving the person who has wronged you. Who will you forgive this year?