You’ll never have the inner peace you’re seeking unless they forgive you for what you’ve done to them.
When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.
Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
What is forgiveness?
Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
What are the benefits of forgiving someone?
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
• Healthier relationships
• Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
• Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
• Lower blood pressure
• Fewer symptoms of depression
• Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?
When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.
What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you’re unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
How do I reach a state of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:
• Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
• Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being
• When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
• Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life
As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.
What if I have to interact with the person who hurt me but I don’t want to?
If you haven’t reached a state of forgiveness, being near the person who hurts you might be tense and stressful. To handle these situations, remember that you can choose to attend or avoid specific functions and gatherings. Respect yourself and do what seems best. If you choose to attend, don’t be surprised by a certain amount of awkwardness and perhaps even more intense feelings. Do your best to keep an open heart and mind. You might find that the experience helps you to move forward with forgiveness.
What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?
Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.
What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?
The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how those wrongs have affected others. At the same time, avoid judging yourself too harshly. You’re human, and you’ll make mistakes. If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically, ask for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.
Do you suspect (or know) that a supposedly monogamous partner has cheated on you? You are not alone. Between a fourth and half of all attached partners will cheat (or have cheated) at one time or another. Knowing others are affected too, however, does not lessen the hurt. Take a look at these steps and use them to help you get through the trauma. This can be an exceptional painful issue and the emotions are very intense so use this as a checklist to help yourself get through the event.
1. First and foremost – take a deep breath and some time. Do not let yourself have a knee-jerk response. Think! This is especially important in long-term relationships. Sudden reactions without thought can lead to consequences you might regret. Give yourself some mental space before you take any action.
2. Talk to someone. You are not alone. Statistics are sketchy and vary widely, but many surveys have been done on cheating and they indicate that between a fourth and half of all married people will or have cheated at one time or another.
3. Do not blame yourself. It’s easy for people to start looking at themselves for reasons why their partner cheated… nothing good will come of that. Issues that lead to cheating sometimes involve both people, but that’s certainly not always the case. However, it would help, at a later date look inwards too to find out why your partner looked elsewhere for comfort. There could be certain gray areas in your behavior which could have led to such actions. You have to remember that most humans like a monogamous lifestyle, as it brings about so much of happiness & security. However, there are a few who would not conform to this.
4. Determine whether you were actually cheated on. Ask yourself these questions: Were you officially boyfriend and girlfriend at the time this “cheating” occurred? Were you officially monogamous? If not, you cannot be sure that your significant other knew what he or she was doing would offend you, in which case you might want to consider less confrontational options.
5. Talk to your partner. Let your concerns and fears be known. It might come out that nothing at all happened, or perhaps something did happen and coercion was involved (workplace sexual harassment, for example, which needs to be discussed openly and immediately to ward off future occurrences). There could be a substance abuse or psychological issue that needs to be addressed (sex addiction is very real). If help is warranted, you might want to support your partner in getting help – that could prove therapeutic for both of you. However, substance abuse is not a valid “excuse” for inappropriate behavior and you absolutely must not permit the “yeah but I was drunk so it doesn’t matter” argument – stand very firm on that.
6. Ask yourself if you will ever be able to look at your partner the same way. Infidelity doesn’t mean much for some, and some people have more than one physical relationship and it doesn’t suggest a shortcoming in their relationship with their steady partner, but this is rare. Infidelity often indicates boredom and dissatisfaction with the present relationships. Dealing with a partner who doesn’t want you in the first place, or one who doesn’t mind hurting you, is ridiculous. Dump him/her if this is the case.
7. If you decide this is irreconcilable, don’t break up with your partner and later take him/her back. This will only give you more emotional stress. If you break up, make it a clean break. However, a trial separation is a valid option. If you do make a break of any kind (permanent or trial) don’t talk to your ex after breaking up with him/her immediately. Give yourself some cooling off time first. If there are children or critical financial issues this might not be possible. In that case, set specific ground rules (time frames, meeting places, etc). This can be difficult, but it’s important.
8. If you are married and pretty sure a more-than-casual relationship is happening, you might need to consider an attorney or a reputable detective in the area that specializes in domestic cases.
9. If you do use an investigator, do not confront or accuse your partner. Let the investigator do his/her job first (if you confront them they may continue in an even more cautious way, which will make the investigation more expensive).
10. Get tested for STD’s as soon as possible. Not knowing will cause you extreme stress. Early treatment is critical.
11. If you can, collect evidence (receipts, emails, photographs, etc.) of the paramour. Keep this information at a friend or family member’s house. This will be less work the investigator will need to do later on your dollar.
12. Don’t start rumors. Share your suspicions with more than one close friend is likely to create gossip that can have very negative results in many areas. If there is an investigation underway, that kind of talk can hamper the case.
13. Look at your own personal actions, too. If you are also cheating, then it might be time to have an open discussion with your partner and clear the air. Perhaps couples counseling is in order. If divorce is the chosen option, remember it can get very ugly, very quickly, and your indiscretions will be brought into the limelight as well.
14. Turnabout is not fair play. Don’t start a relationship just because your spouse has done so. This is pure revenge and nothing good will come of it.
• Get out if the incident has hurt you too much.
• Being honest with yourself is important. If you don’t end the relationship, can you live with the thought that it might happen again?
• Get counseling! It’s not a particularly bad idea to do this even if there’s nothing wrong in your life, but when you are hurt it can definitely help to talk to someone professional.
• It always helps to forgive and put it behind you and not dwell on the past if you want to move forward.
• Do you want to invest the energy to “monitor” the relationship?
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” — Anais Nin.
Friends add meaning to our life, they enrich our experiences, bring joy, and share our problems. If there were a fourth need besides food, water, and shelter, we could say it would be the need for human interaction, closeness, and friendships. After all, what if great things happen in your life—you got a new job, a promotion, or fall in love—and there is no one to share the news with? What is the use of getting that new dress, purse, car, or house if there is no one to tell you, “I’m so happy for you!” And what can give you more relief in time of frustration, grief, sadness, or “the blues” than talking to a friend? Our friends are an important part of our lives, and also a necessary part; they are our mirrors, and our sounding boards.
Choosing a friend is not an easy task, for we all had one or two experiences in our life when a person who we thought was our friend let us down. Those lessons were hard to swallow, yet necessary to our inner growth. Later we learned that it is better to be alone than to be in wrong company.
It is of utmost importance to carefully choose the people we will associate with, for they will have great influence on our life. ‘‘Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.’’ (Assyrian proverb). We are the average of the five people closest to us, and that relates to their lifestyle, manners, income, etc. If you make friends with someone who is always looking for an easy way out, tells “white lies,” makes excuses, is envious, sarcastic, and avoids taking responsibility, it is only a matter of time before you start slacking off in those areas and justifying your own behavior as acceptable. Somehow what seemed unthinkable before, will gain a new perspective and become the norm, for if you run with the wolves you too will learn how to howl, and just like a mirror you will start to reflect the behavior of your friends—the good and the bad.
Stop for a moment now, and take a little inventory of the person you are right now compared to the person you were a year or two years ago. What qualities have you adopted from the people you surround yourself with? What character traits, attitudes, vocabulary, even quality of your self-esteem, confidence, acceptance of yourself and others? How did your friends (consciously or unconsciously) influence you in those areas? If the change is positive, and you feel yourself moving toward more, that’s great! How about if the change is negative, slowly but surely getting you down, making you feel that you are less instead of being more?
It is up to you to make the change, for as long as you tolerate mediocrity from others, you too will find mediocrity in your own life acceptable. Know, however, that this will be one of the hardest changes you will have to make, for your friends will not want you to grow. They have spent months or sometimes years getting you to a point where they themselves are, and now they are feeling comfortable with you right there, and it will not be of benefit to them if you should decide to change that. They don’t want you to grow, for the result of your personal growth will be outgrowing them and their comfort zone. At all cost they will want you to stay where they are, where they can continue to influence you and will not have to worry that someday you may become better than them. Their intentions may not even be based on jealousy but rather on fear, so forgive them quickly so you can go on your way to become the person you are meant to be.
Sometimes you have to leave behind those who are not willing to climb the mountain with you, if they refuse to share your vision of personal growth, then they should not try to discourage you in reaching your dream. How will you know what their true intention is for you? Look at their own lives, in which areas have they already reached the success that you are striving for? If they tasted the victory, they will want the same for you, however if their life never left their personal comfort zone they will be eager to share thoughts of fear and discouragement with you. So on your travel to a greater you, only take counsel from those who have already been there. Surround yourself with friends who are models of something instead of experts of nothing, for if you share your problems with someone who is incapable of contributing to a solution dipping in their own life’s experiences, your time and energy is wasted. Oftentimes though, it is those who never did anything who are the first with their ill-fitted advice. Know then, that at those times you can reserve the right that not everyone has the privilege to speak into your life. Instead of wasting your time with those people, invest in some time spending a few hours with people who have ‘‘been there and done that” and came out of it successfully.
It is said that there are three kinds of people in this world:
• Those who watch things happen.
• Those who make things happen.
• Those who wonder “What happened?”.
So let’s make things happen. Start today!
Choose good friendships in your life, the kind of friends who will enrich your life, pull you up when you are down, and push you when you can’t go on by yourself, who will be generous with praise at your successes and eager with encouragement at your struggles, those who will not patronize you to make you feel good for a moment, but those who will tell you the truth and help you get better for a lifetime.
Forgive them even if they’re not sorry.
Going through heartbreak can feel like being underwater when you need to breathe. We build our lives with someone we trust and care for, and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s all gone. This can leave people with sorrow, anger, and some serious questions — about ourselves and the future. If you’re dealing with heartbreak and want to heal, try these suggestions to find the new you.
Method 1 of 3: Making Time For Yourself.
1. Give yourself some me time.
You’ve probably been in a relationship for a while, or maybe you’ve been thinking about that person non-stop for months. Now is the time to take a step back, look at your life, and move on to the next challenge. Everyone falls down. It’s how you get back up that defines you.
- Take a weekend to do whatever it is you love most. Whether it’s surfing, hiking, cooking, or simply being around your friends, use the opportunity to surround yourself with happy people and do the things that make you happy.
- Start a journal to record how you feel. Writing things down can be a powerful release. It’s called “catharsis,” where you purify your mind through expression. Write about whatever you want to write about. You’ll feel a lot better after you do.
- Don’t be afraid to feel sad. It’s normal to feel sad. Don’t feel inferior or stupid if you cry or get upset — these things are normal. Going through grief is just another step along the path to recovery. Let yourself grieve.
2. Remove all the memories of the person from your everyday life.
You’re not trying to pretend like the person never existed, just temporarily forget how much they meant to you and how they broke your heart.
- Go through your room and remove all pictures of, letters from, references to the person you’re trying to stop obsessing over. If you have a journal in which you write about the person, begin a completely new one. It’s a symbolic new beginning, but an important one.
- Removing is different from destroying. Don’t burn or destroy any objects associated with the person, unless you’re sure that you never want them to be any part of your life in the future. When you’re old and completely in love with someone who loves you just as much back, the memories will be a record of all that you went through to get to where you are now.
3. Disconnect the person from all the social networks you use.
Nowadays, we have our regular lives and our online lives. Unsubscribe from the person on Facebook, unfollow them on Twitter, and work so that your online network doesn’t remind you of the person who broke your heart.
- If you feel like writing them, create a fake email account (for example, a Gmail account) and send the emails to that account. That way you can put all your hurt and pain into words and get it off your chest, but there is no chance your ex will actually see it.
4. Exercise and eat right.
Go the gym or get outside and sweat. Physical activity increases the amount of serotonin in the brain, which acts like a natural antidepressant, improving your mood. It’s okay to eat ice cream and milkshakes every once in a while (who doesn’t do that?!) but it’s best to continue to eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grains, and water. These will not only make you look fantastic, but feel fantastic as well.
5. Try not to be in the same place as the person, if possible.
This is hard to do, obviously: The other person has probably been an important part of your life for some time, and your body and brain are used to having them around. But giving the other person up, like cold turkey is a good way to tell your body and mind that there are plenty of other people in the world who deserve your attention. Why not give them a chance?
- If you go to school with the person, avoid the person as much as possible. Don’t sit with them at lunch; don’t participate in the same voluntary projects. Take the classes that you finally want to take. As much as possible, make yourself scarce when that person is around.
- Don’t put yourself in situations where you could bump into one another. You know what places the person goes to because you used to share love. If the person loves going to the gym early Saturday, only go during the weekday. If the person loves going to the local farmer’s market, try to go really late or early if you have to go. (Best would be to avoid altogether.)
- Be courteous if/when you bump into the person. There’s no use being mean, angry, and boastful if you run into the person. Say “hi” the way you would to a friend, have a short, impersonal chat, and say goodbye. The best payback that you can give the other person is to live a full, happy, meaningful life without them.
6. Stay optimistic.
This is easier said than done, but whenever you feel yourself being overly negative, dwelling on the past, or just looking at the glass as half-empty, try to snap out of it. Remind yourself of everything you have and how lucky you are.
- Smile as much as possible. It’ll help you feel better and look great. Watch funny movies, read funny books, or hang with funny friends.
Method 2 of 3: Understanding and Forgiving.
1. Figure out what went wrong in your relationship.
Every relationship has its strengths and weaknesses. Figure out what went wrong in your relationship, or what wasn’t so great about the other person. This way you can grow in the future, or look for better traits in your next partner. There are a bunch of things that can normally go wrong in a relationship, but here are just a few:
- I never felt loved/I always felt put down. A relationship is all about love, and if you didn’t feel that in the relationship, that’s a big problem. Your partner doesn’t have to show love the same way that you do, but they should be able to show it somehow. It’s the least you deserve.
- I felt manipulated/used/lied to. Honesty and honest intentions should be a cornerstone of every relationship. True love is doing something for someone else without expecting anything back. Someone who manipulates, uses, or lies is only really looking out for themselves, not you.
- The love just wore off after a little while. The early part of a relationship, when you fall for one another, is when you’re infatuated. This means you’re completely carried away with the person, mainly because they’re new. After a while, this feeling naturally wears off for some. If the other person is no longer in love with you, try to feel lucky for the time you did have.
- I was cheated on. Trust is huge ingredient in a relationship. If you don’t have trust, you’re constantly second-guessing yourself or feeling jealous. If your partner cheated on you, that trust is probably gone. Let someone earn your trust in the future, and pay them back in kind.
2. Don’t obsess over whose fault it was.
You probably have room for growing, too, so try not to pin all the blame on just the other person. Focus on the issues, not the actors.
- For example, if you were part of a manipulative relationship, don’t just say “He manipulated me and I didn’t deserve that.” Instead, tell yourself, “I’m not going to let someone manipulate me the way this person did because I’m going to look out for all the signs in the future.”
- There are probably some things you wish you could change or take back. Focus on fixing those issues for your next relationship. It will give you extra motivation.
3. Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you learn from them that defines you as a person. Learn from what went wrong in your last relationship — what caused you to be heartbroken — and make sure that doesn’t happen in the future.
4. Once you’re ready, forgive the other person.
Forgiveness is an important part of healing your broken heart. In order to move on, you need to forgive the other person, or you’ll constantly be thinking about them or wondering why they hurt you.
- Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight. It can take a long time to be able to forgive someone, so be sure you’re actually ready to forgive. Usually, finding someone who truly loves you is a great way to forgive the other person.
- How do you forgive someone? Recognize that everyone makes mistakes. Try to find their intentions, and understand why they were doing what they did. Try putting yourself in their shoes. You don’t have to come up with an answer, but try to come up with an idea.
- You don’t have to tell the other person you forgive them, but it helps. You can forgive them silently in your heart, if that’s the way you want to do it. But you may want to have a friendship with them in the future; telling them you forgive them will make that friendship easier.
5. Don’t argue with the other person.
Sometimes you give the other person a chance to speak their mind, or to talk about an issue that went wrong. We do this to get closure. If you are discussing things with the person who broke your heart, be a little guarded and don’t let the conversation turn into an argument.
- If the person tries to defend what happened in the relationship and gets angry, you can say: “I didn’t come here to argue. I respect you as a person and your opinions, but the time for arguing has passed. If we’re going to continue to talk, let’s talk like adults or not talk at all.”
- Don’t let the other person manipulate you. The other person might try to get you angry or provoke you with something hurtful or mean. Don’t give them the satisfaction of letting it hurt you. Stay calm, collected, and serene.
Method 3 of 3: Turning Your Life Around.
1. Lean on your friends.
Your friends are there to help you, to comfort you when you’re feeling bad, and inspire you to feel good. Deep down, your friends love you. It’s not unreasonable to lean on your friends as you deal with a broken heart. They’re maybe the ones who will help you out of it.
- Do everyday activities with your plans. Plan a movie night by buying tickets in advance. Go to the zoo, to the beach, or out to dinner. Remember the fun you used to have doing all the silly things. Try to recapture that part of your life.
- Have a talk with your best friend about your heartbreak. Confide in them. Give yourself a chance to vent to someone who completely has your back. You’ll feel a whole lot better.
2. Channel your energy into new activities.
What we miss when a relationship ends is that we can’t express our love anymore. We can’t express our excitement to someone who’s interested because they’re interested in you. You can continue this form of heartfelt expression, however, by writing poetry, painting, singing, dancing, etc. Do whatever it takes to allow you to transform your pain into something productive!
- Pick up a new skill. Try doing something you know little about, so it forces you to engage in the world in a different way. Try glass-blowing, ceramics, a new instrument, or cave diving. Be adventurous and open to new possibilities.
- Volunteer. Learn to give back to your community, however big or small it is. Volunteering will help you see the real impact you have on people’s lives, and should show you how fortunate you are to have everything you do.
3. Go on a trip.
It doesn’t need to be far, but it should be far enough to give you a little bit of perspective. The world is such a big, beautiful place; you should take advantage of it. Bring some camping supplies or bunk it with that friend you haven’t seen in a while. A little bit of distance can do wonders for your broken heart.
4. Tap your imagination.
Nothing makes getting over a broken heart harder than feeling trapped. And it may be cheesy or cliché, but your imagination will let you go places you’ve never been and experience things you might never see. Use it. You’ll feel better.
- Read a book every night before you go to sleep. You might never have read books, but nothing moves you outside of yourself better than a book. It will help you heal.
- Fantasize about your future. Leave the person who broke your heart out of it. Fantasize about your career, your home, your family, and your travels. You should feel inspired to realize them. Focus on the potential of the good.
- Stretch your goals. Your goals will give you motivation to get off your butt and do something. Ask yourself, what are my goals? If you don’t have any, make some. Be ambitious and shoot for the stars. You won’t regret failing, but you will regret not trying.
5. Once you feel ready, start dating other people again.
After two or three months, many people feel ready to date again. Be sure you’ve fixed some of the issues you had in your previous relation, and try not to make the same mistake twice!
- If you’re not ready to jump back into a serious relationship, tell the person you’re dating that you just got out of a relationship and want to take things slow. Hopefully, the person understands. If they don’t, they’re not a good fit for you.
- Don’t look for perfection right away. A lot of times, we keep ourselves from entering into relationships because we want to find the perfect man/woman. If you’re looking for Mr/Ms Perfect, you won’t have much luck. Look for someone who’s kind, sharing, funny, smart, and relatable. The rest will take care of itself.
- Don’t be afraid to love. You have to open yourself up to possible heartbreak if you want to love again. But it’s worth it. The love wouldn’t mean as much if it didn’t hurt when it is ripped away. Give your heart to the right person and they’ll reward you infinitely.
6. Remember the two-year rule.
It takes two years to learn a new job, two years to get accustomed to a new town, and two years to completely heal a broken heart. If you expect to be completely healed in a day after a three-year relationship, you could be sorely disappointed. Real results are obtainable when realistic expectations are set.
- Take a moment to lie back and breathe. The stress can block your brain from thinking clearly.
- It really helps if you have good friends who can watch over you and prevent you from doing and/or saying something that you will end up regretting!
- Reflect on all the other types of “love” you have in your life and not on the love you’ve lost.
- Do not go on any dates with the person from whom you are trying to heal. This is not productive and will not lead to healing. There is no more closure. There is only healing. Think of it as cutting a wound open that has stopped bleeding and started closing.
- Show confidence to yourself.
- Stop obsessing over the person!
- Just take a breather. It’s going to hurt for a while. Try not to hook up because it’s just not healthy.
- Focus on you. Do things that make you happy.
- Know that everything happens for a reason; maybe it happened to let you know that you are brave or that you should not repeat the mistake again.
- Think of the bad things that caused the relationship to end rather than the good because it will help you to move on.
- Act happy and confident around that person, so it shows you have moved on!
- Do not have contact with the person you are trying to forget.
- At first it may help you to write down all of the bad things about your ex and re read them when you feel weak. However, after a few weeks you should be writing down all of the great things about yourself and concentrating on that. Then, think about all the great things you can do now.
- For a quick fix in the aftermath of the heartbreak – eat something delicious. Chocolate is the number one heartbreak food because it genuinely helps just that little bit. It doesn’t fix anything but it lifts your spirits a little because chances are they will be crushed on the floor and need all the lifting they can.
- Don’t put the person down to lift yourself up!
- If you need to tell a friend about your heart-breaking loss, do it one time only. You will need your friend later, so best to not wear out your welcome with him/her.
- Find a new friend who is going through the same thing. This allows you to focus on someone else besides yourself.
- Nostalgia will last for a long time after you heal.
- Once you feel comfortable talking to them again, try to build a friendship. Maybe you can start over but it’s not guaranteed.