how to forgive

How to Forgive When You’ve Been Hurt

Amber Murphy

Naturally, people tend to run away from pain and disappointment. That’s why it’s difficult to forgive because we never fully heal when we run away from our problems. We get angry at people who hurt us because of the pain that they inflict on us. But there is a solution that helps you deal with the pain. You need to learn how to forgive. While forgiveness is important, a lot of people don’t understand the process of forgiveness. Below is a comprehensive outline of how to forgive.

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How to Forgive and Move Forward

1. Know that it’s possible to forgive

When people hurt us, we often think that it’s impossible to forgive. This is usually even more difficult when the betrayal was unexpected or from someone you loved deeply. A lot of people, therefore, tend to hold grudges. The worst thing about grudges is that they affect us mentally and also physically. It weighs the mind and body down.

However, it’s important to know that it’s possible to forgive. Ask yourself, “Will holding on to the pain help me in any way?” the answer is no, it won’t. Nothing lasts forever so even your pain or betrayal won’t last forever. Know that you can fully let go of someone you love and move on with life. Check out this forgiveness meditation!

2. Practice compassion

For the sake of your mental and physical health, practice self compassion, such as self compassion exercises if you are seeking forgiveness or forgiving someone else. You might have negative feelings swirling within you, thinking things like “I’ll forgive but I’ll never forget.” But how does that serve you? How does thinking about karma or revenge level you up? It doesn’t. That’s why it’s key to develop empathy, for yourself and everyone involved.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean bowing down to someone, or sacrificing your values to support another. Your well being definitely plays a role in this too. However, to forgive someone doesn’t mean that they got a free pass. It just means you won’t let the pain weigh on your mind anymore. Bottling up feelings on this issue is now a thing of the past. Your desire for a relationship with this person might end for good. But there’s a sense that you’re free from the situation. You’ve unchained yourself from the handcuffs of the suffering you’ve experienced with them.

3. Forgiveness doesn’t happen instantly

I tend to think that forgiveness is a slow process that we choose daily. It’s impossible to wake up one day and fully forgive. This is because the whole process requires deep consideration which is not easy. So, if you want to forgive, you need to know that this is a slow and gradual process.

Betrayal and pain are very difficult to let go of. Sometimes we have physical and emotional scars that remain as everlasting reminders of what we went through. So, you need to shed the resentment each and every passing day. Do not suppress your feelings because there are days when you will have difficulty in letting go. However, you need to remind yourself that this is something that will not happen instantly but gradually.

Knowing how to forgive starts with creating a list

4. Create a comprehensive list

What are some of the things or who are some of the people that hurt you? Why do you think it happened? Was it intentional or unintentional? Was it recently or long ago? What is the level of pain you have been experiencing?

Generally, it’s important to create a list starting with the experience that resulted in the biggest impact. Then go down to those that you consider small. After that, go through the list and start by forgiving those individuals who caused you the least pain. Slowly, move up the list and tick off those you are willing to forgive at that moment. Some people will definitely remain on that list because of your personal reasons. However, make sure that you go over the list from time to time to ensure that you eventually tick everyone off.

5. Build up your self esteem

Self forgiveness and self esteem are interconnected. When you struggle to forgive yourself, you might have low self esteem, whereas it would be high if forgiveness begins. You can improve mental and physical health, by receiving forgiveness from yourself.

You can’t spend your whole life blaming yourself for past mistakes and actions. All you can do now is learn those life lessons and move forward to become a better version of yourself. When you hurt yourself as a punishment for wrong-doings it’s almost a cop out. It’s better to change your behavior rather than just feeling bad about a situation. How can you be kinder to others moving forward? What relationships can you strengthen in your life? Accept resentment from others if they’re unable to forgive you, and don’t force forgiveness upon them. Yet, remember you can still have inner peace in your life, if you focus on building on top of your good qualities.

self forgiveness

6. Understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation

This is one of the most crucial things that you should understand. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you should reconcile with them. While it may bring reconciliation, sometimes it’s just a way of setting yourself free from the pain. It just means letting go of the past and what caused you pain without letting it consume you.

7. Manage difficult emotions

Harm can disrupt our joy and peace of mind. So can hurtful words spoken when negative thoughts wander through our mind. The reality is it’s really simple to change your life. Be kind to others even when you don’t want to. Praise people when they achieve success and happiness. And focus on doing the kind of behavior that brings a sense of peace into the lives of others, like good deeds and acts of kindness.

Seriously, those who do kind acts for others every single day of their lives have far fewer difficult emotions. Plus, it’s a whole lot easier to forgive yourself and others when you’re no longer bringing harm in lives through words or wrong doings. But that level of compassion will take some practice. So here’s a challenge, do something kind for others every single day… for the rest of your life, and notice how much easier it will become to control your emotions.

8. Consider the severity of your anger

Does the situation still make you extremely angry or you have cooled off to some extent? Are you acknowledging that you are angry? Because you have all the valid reasons to feel so. On the other hand, are you denying your anger? This could be by suppressing your feelings and not acknowledging that the situation happened. Once you understand all these, you will be walking yourself through emotions you didn’t even know existed. Note that opening yourself this way allows you to become vulnerable. It also gives you a solid reason to let go of the anger and start to heal.

9. Try to soften your heart

The experiences we normally go through usually hardens our hearts. For instance, you will find a person who has been betrayed many times tends to get unmoved by similar experiences in the future. Our hearts harden because we either get used to similar situations or we resolve to be tough. Generally, your heart can be hardened knowingly and unknowingly.

By acknowledging your anger and resolving to soften your heart, you are creating room for forgiveness. This means that you want to release all those forces that have been compressing you and making your heart hard.

how to forgive

10. Enhance your mental health

Those who struggle to practice forgiveness need to enhance their mental health. When our minds lean negative, it’s easier to have bad habits instead of good habits. Those without supportive partners might need to turn to other relationships to find support with their well being.

When your mind is working well, it’s easier to forgive someone because you understand how big of a role mental health plays in your actions. So you forgive people, not as a way to let them off the hook, but because you know that mentally things aren’t going well for them.

Forgiving someone takes a mentally stong person who can overcome their hurt and realize that most wrong actions just come from negative thoughts. This understanding can help you support people who’ve made bad mistakes and lead them to the road of recovery.

11. Don’t let the pain consume you

While you are doing all of the above-mentioned things, you are bound to feel pain. This is because in certain instances you will have to relieve the events that led to the betrayal. You feel a mixture of emotions that can be strong and random at times. However, don’t let this pain consume you. Acknowledge and feel the pain. Just don’t let take over. Because you have to get stronger and move past all these.

Commit to forgive everyone

12. Commit to forgiving everyone

This gradual process requires your full commitment. You can’t start it and simply leave halfway. To fully understand how to forgive, you must be ready and willing to commit. This is because there are times that the whole process will weigh you down.

It should be noted that how to forgive is not just a one-phase activity. There are several phases including anger, denial, pain, and letting go among others. Regardless of what you feel, make it a personal commitment to eventually forgive.

13. Do it, even if it feels impossible

There are many benefits to forgiveness, which range from empathy to compassion to peace while overcoming anxiety and depression. It’s normal to want to get revenge, fight, or create chaos for someone who hurt you. But that still doesn’t mean it’s the best choice.

Forgiveness can feel impossible sometimes. But when you forgive someone, you lift a huge weight from your shoulders. It’s about refusing to continue to hurt yourself after a relationship has ended or a person has caused harm in your life. You also shouldn’t try to follow their path the same way. Becoming like the person who hurt you is far worse than just forgiving that person.

14. Your focus should be yourself

It’s human nature to always shift the blame to others. But you want to learn how to forgive, right? Then it’s advisable that you switch your attention from the other parties to yourself. Once you start thinking about how the other parties behaved you will lose yourself. Besides that, forgiveness is for your own good.

So, fully shift the attention to yourself. Don’t try to blame others. Additionally, don’t try to blame yourself. Your energy should be to understand yourself and let everything unfold.

15. Know it’s a difficult process

The hardest part of forgiveness is that if you actually wrote down the date you forgave someone, you’d find years later that you forgot that you forgave them.

Forgiveness isn’t linear. It’s not “I forgive you” and then you move on with your life. Depending on how severe the pain caused to you, you might find five or ten years down the road you still have days where you’re trying to forgive them, even though years earlier you already did.

Sure, if the mistake was something small, you could forgive and forget. But if it’s complicated like relationship abuse, you might find yourself cycling in and out of forgiveness as you try to heal. Triggers might re-upset you.

16. Don’t judge others

Become an observer but don’t be a judge. You want to attain inner peace by forgiving and you can’t achieve this by being judgmental. It’s worth noting judging makes you resentful of certain people. As a result, you will still end up with negative energy.

don't judge others

17. You’re not responsible for delivering karma

You’re not a karma delivery person. Your desire to see someone suffer is just as hateful as what someone did to you. You’re not responsible to make sure someone “gets what they deserve.” In fact, doing so, might negatively impact your own karma.

However, just because you don’t go dishing out karma doesn’t mean people don’t get what they deserve. You’ll notice in life that good and bad things flow in and out of each other. That’s kind of why karma works the way it does. And that’s why bad things happen to good people, because both good and bad things happen to everybody.

18. Avoid looking for offensive situations

Once you have been hurt, you tend to look for opportunities to get offended. People normally tend to do so to validate their feelings or experiences. However, this is set you thousands of steps back. When you are aware of who you are, you stop looking at opportunities that will offend you. In fact, you become a person who avoids situations or people who might provoke. Refuse to be dragged into scenarios that will interfere with your inner peace.

19. Don’t forget the other party is a human being

We were all born without knowledge. So, much of what we know is through teachings and experiences. Overall, no human is perfect. We are prone to make mistakes and in the process end up hurting others. However, it’s important to also forgive because mistakes will always happen. Acknowledge the other party’s humanity and their mistakes don’t make them any lesser human beings. Forgiveness can only happen with some compassion and loving kindness.

Reconnect with yourself to begin the forgiving process

20. Reconnect with yourself

Human beings are spiritual and that’s why we often take time to meditate and do soul searching. But when you are hurt, it’s so hard to connect with your internal being. During this process, make sure that you reflect and rediscover yourself. Don’t walk around like a wounded dog ready to bite. But be peaceful, kind, and constantly reflect in order to lift your mood. Don’t forget that you are stronger than you know.

21. Live in the present

Forgiveness is usually hard because most people tend to live in the past. The truth is that yesterday is gone regardless of what happened. The only thing we can control is what happens today and prepare for the future.

Don’t waste your time lamenting about the bad old days and how people treated you? You want your today to be fulfilled and enjoyable. Living in the past means that you are denying yourself the chance to completely feel and experience the present. Be present and focus on the future.

22. Let it go

Understand that forgiveness takes time. So, you might think you’re done but again find yourself in the same pit of anger, pain, and resentment. Don’t worry, you can always repeat the above-mentioned process to ensure that you fully let go.


It’s important to know how to forgive. This is because there are a lot of people that will disappoint and hurt you in life. The truth is that no one can fully escape pain and betrayal in life from other fellow human beings. Not to mention, there will be people you will hurt, too. Therefore, it’s crucial to know how to deal with all these events that occur. Know that when you forgive, it’s for your own good and not the other party’s. Additionally, forgiving allows you to live a stress-free and happy life. With all that, forgiveness just means that you’re ready to move on, not that what the other party did is acceptable. You should always stand up for yourself and be assertive when the time arises.

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