Skip to content
Using Forgiveness To Break Free

Holding onto resentment, anger, and blame often feels justified. Someone hurt us, so they deserve our wrath, right? But in reality, choosing forgiveness sets us free while holding on just imprisons us further.

In this article, we’ll explore how forgiveness serves as an empowering tool to help you heal and liberate yourself.

Defining True Forgiveness

First, let’s clarify what forgiveness is and isn’t. Forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing bad behavior, justifying a wrong, or reconciling a relationship. You can forgive someone and still:

– Maintain boundaries against further harm

– Leave a toxic situation

– Press charges against misconduct

– Discontinue contact

Forgiveness simply means releasing resentment and giving up the right to punish someone for their actions. It’s making peace with pain. Forgiveness is a personal act for your healing, not for the benefit of the person who hurt you.

Why Forgiveness Sets You Free

Not forgiving someone who caused you harm can feel like you’re taking back power over the situation. But in reality, refusing to forgive only hurts you, not them. It’s like wanting to poison them for what they’ve done but then drinking the poison yourself.

Here’s how harboring resentment keeps you ensnared:

Emotional bondage. Holding onto anger chains you emotionally to the one who hurt you. They occupy your mental real estate.

Stolen joy. Resentment clouds your mind and steals your joy. You lose the present moment.

Stunted growth. Clinging to pain stunts your personal growth and evolution. You stay stuck in victimhood.

Lost energy. Vengeful thoughts drain your mental and physical energy. This limits creativity and productivity.

Poisoned other relationships. Unresolved anger often seeps into and damages other areas of your life.

Worsened trauma symptoms. Bitterness exacerbates post-traumatic stress responses like anxiety and depression.

Physical illness. Chronic anger biologically stresses the body and depletes health over time.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” It’s an ongoing mindset that frees you from the past.

How to Practice Genuine Forgiveness

Forgiving someone who caused deep wounds takes time and patience. Don’t rush or force yourself before you’re ready. Consider these steps:

1. Release the expectation that forgiveness should happen immediately. Give yourself space to process complex feelings first.

2. Accept the full pain of what happened to open the door for healing. Suppressing facts only delays progress.

3. Let go of the fantasy of a perfect apology or karma. Justice is often unattainable. Focus on your emotional healing instead.

4. Dig beneath the anger to observe any hurt, grief, or vulnerability. Address these core wounds with self-compassion.

5. Imagine yourself in the shoes of the one who hurt you. Seek any common ground in the human experience.

6. Release the burden of judgment and acknowledge how suffering begets more suffering. We all have room to grow.

7. Perform a symbolic ritual like writing a letter of understanding or anger release. Mark the desire to move forward.

8. Cultivate empathy for both yourself as victim and the flawed humanity of those who do harm.

9. Make space to gain perspective on how the situation served your growth. Find meaning.

10. Celebrate forgiveness as a marker of your personal power, not weakness. It takes courageous resilience.

Think of forgiveness as cleansing your psyche and freeing yourself from the past’s hold over you. It allows you to move forward unburdened.

You may have been a victim of their behavior, but you don’t have to stay a victim. You don’t have to give them the power to keep hurting you.

The Most Important Thing To Remember

The most important person to forgive is yourself. And ironically, it’s also what makes forgiving anyone else easier.

You did the very best you were capable of in the moment. If you could have done better, you would have. The you who did that didn’t know what you know now. They didn’t have the same data, knowledge, wisdom, skills, or experience as you do now. They weren’t feeling the way you are now. They did their best. How can you expect more of yourself than your best?

The more you forgive yourself, the easier it will be to forgive others. The more you see how you were doing your best (even if your best was terrible) the easier it will be to see how others are doing their best (even if their best is terrible).

If you only forgive one person, forgive yourself.

You are enough as exactly as you are. You’re just a human, doing their best. You deserve forgiveness. And forgiving yourself will give you more freedom than you can possibly imagine.

Questions to Consider

  1. Where are you holding onto a grudge? How is it holding you back?
  2. Where are you holding onto resentment or anger? How is it holding you back?
  3. What have you not forgiven yourself for? Why? How might that be holding you back from what you want?
  4. What will it take to choose forgiveness as a gift you give yourself?

Forgiveness is Never For Them, It’s a Gift For You

When grappling with whether or not to forgive someone who caused you harm, remember, you aren’t absolving their wrongdoing or entitling them to your trust. You are benefiting yourself – body, mind and soul. For you, not them.

Forgiveness is the ultimate act of honoring your inner power and resilience. It takes courage to break free from resentment’s grip. But you hold the key to your emotional liberty. Assuming ownership of your state of mind is the path to profound freedom.

Live Free. Love Life.

Thanks for reading Live Free. Love Life! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.