How Can I Learn to Forgive?

By Alexa Ashworth – MFTC

verified by Psychology Today

Forgiveness is a very powerful gift to ourselves and a gift to another when we are honest and intentional in this journey.  In order to forgive another person, however, I believe the journey of forgiveness starts with ourselves.  Before we can genuinely forgive someone else, we must first sit with all the difficult emotions where we tend to be hard on ourselves and forgive those first.

Once we find grace in our own emotional experience, we can have clarity over how to forgive someone else that has done wrong. It is important to move away from the wrongdoing and negative thoughts associated with your own or the offender’s doing in the process.

Your memory will be triggered day in and day out while unraveling the emotions and decisions made from negative events.  This is okay.  It requires small steps to fully forgive yourself and another in this journey.It is one thing to say “I forgive you” or “I forgive myself” and quickly go on with the day.  It is a whole different experience when you truly feel free and enter a new space of wellness in the act of forgiveness.

There are powerful benefits to practicing forgiveness.  A few of these benefits are lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility.  The act of forgiving also provides higher self-esteem, self-love, and greater life satisfaction over time.

Some steps you may take on your journey to self-forgiveness are:

  • Accept responsibility for your actions or own words said that were harmful. Make sure you are specific when honoring your own faults.
  • After accepting what you have done, it is okay to feel guilty. However, allow yourself to experience the guilt and then find ways to move forward with self-compassion, so you can overcome ruminating thoughts.
  • Self-compassion will be fully experienced when you further accept what has happened from a specific event.
  • Take on new responsibilities in your daily life. For example, forgive someone on the spot when witnessing someone doing wrong. You could do this quietly in your head or say it out loud if it is someone close to you in the moment.
  • After making amends, find a way to learn from the experience and grow as a person.

Some steps you may take on your journey to forgive another person:

  • Accept the reality of what happened
  • Let go of grievances and judgments made about another person, so you can heal.
  • You are not pardoning or excusing another person’s actions. You are becoming more aware of how someone else’s actions affected you, so you can decide if you want to forgive someone.
  • You have to be willing to forgive someone else.
  • Think about the other person and possibly what need they were trying to meet. What do you think the person’s need was and why did they choose to go about it in a hurtful way?
  • You have the ultimate choice to decide if you will forgive someone for their wrongdoing. Whether this is aloud or through another type of expression, that is up to you.

As you slowly walk in your own journey of self-forgiveness or forgiving others, allow new positive energy to flow back into your life.  Continue to recognize areas of toxicity that need further renewal and tend to those areas with care so wounds can be healed.  As we exercise forgiveness daily, we will experience the freedom of mind, heart, and soul.

For more information on how forgiveness can lead to a healthier lifestyle click here:

For practicing professionals in this field, I highly recommend looking into Andrea Brandt’s Mindful Anger Workshops.

See my reading recommendations


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