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Do You Know How to Really Forgive Someone?

The Problem with Not Forgiving

Most people have at least one person in their life that they harbor anger against for some reason or another. For some the anger is due to a serious hurt, whether physical or emotional, such as assault or abuse. For others the anger stems from less important issues, but the anger is just as real and just as debilitating. For instance the resentment that can build up in a relationship over many years over many small and large differences. For some, maybe it is a co-worker that angers you, they ask too much of you, they sabotage you, or they just annoy you.

Why do we hold onto anger? At it’s root, it’s because we want to hurt that person back. The problem with this strategy is that it doesn’t hurt the intended. It only hurts us. Think about it. Can you be happy when you are angry? Have you ever noticed that you have more accidents the more angry you are? So how do you get rid of this anger? By forgiving.

The Problem with Forgiving

If forgiving is the answer to releasing your anger, why don’t we do it? Well, because forgiving someone is hard! Another reason is that we don’t know how to do it properly. And then there is the fear that by forgiving someone we are inviting them to hurt us again or that we are saying what they did was ok.

How to Really Forgive Someone

1)Examine Your Anger - Take some time to understand your anger. It’s easy to say, “Well I just hate that person” or “That person drives me crazy.” For some the reason for the anger is very clear as in the case of assault, for instance. But other times, the root of our anger is not so clear. Why does this person “bug you?” Why do you get angry at your boss? Why do you flip out when your spouse parks the car “the wrong way.” The reason it is important to understand your anger is that if you identify clearly what the root is, then you can go about finding a possible solution. This doesn’t work in all cases. But try this first anyway. Then ask yourself what can YOU do to make the situation better? If it’s about trying to change a person, the only way to really impact a person is to love them, praise them and continually discover and focus on the good in that person. This takes time, but try it!! It really works. If it’s an intolerable situation and you can’t ignore it, find a way to not be around this person.

2) “Thank You for This Experience.”
Have you ever noticed how good can spring up from bad experiences? Just like after a forest fire the first thing you see is lots of little green plants starting to grow. What did you learn about your inner strength from your negative experience? What did you learn about yourself that has made you a stronger person? This doesn’t make wrongs against you right. But it puts you back in the position of power, not victimhood. Remember, you have survived. Build on that! And little by little explore where you see small bits of green sprouting up in your life. Focus on that, have gratitude for that good, and you will be in the process of forgiving.

3) Relationship Resentment -Let it Go: Advice from the book “Follow Your Heart” by Andrew Matthews (one of my favorite books) is brilliant. In his book he talks about how we make up rules for how others should behave. If they don’t behave that way, we make them “guilty” and we hold a grudge. But does it change the situation? No. All it does it “ruin our lives!” He uses humor to make a good point, “When a seagull craps on your head, do you resent the seagull?” Do you resent the weather when it rains? So why resent people?

Whatever the “guilty party” got wrong, it is history. The question is, “Do you want your life to work or don’t you.” And he also takes on the hard situations too. For instance, he a friend who found forgiveness after having his 3 teenage daughters murdered. It wasn’t easy, but in the end he realized that only he had control over how he moved forward with his life. He didn’t want his life to be miserable so he “let go of anger” for his “own sake and his own survival.”

4) Meditate on Compassion: Imagine your antagonist as a baby. What has been their life? Why do they act in ways that hurt you or others? If you can find a small place of compassion, of understanding, then perhaps in seeing them as a victim of their circumstances, you may find a place of peace about what happened. Buddhism says: “for the victimizer is, truly, the most unfortunate of all.”  Buddhism urges us to focus on loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity as “a means for avoiding resentment in the first place.”

The Dalia Lama lives a life of forgiveness in action. The book, “The Wisdom of Forgiveness” gives an account his life in this regard. Again this doesn’t make crimes committed right. This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily befriend a person who hurt you or that you should take your guard down in protecting yourself from a dangerous person. But if you can find a place where you can wish for their healing, you will find your own healing. If this doesn’t work, move onto #5.

5) Turn it over to God: Put your trust in God that God will take care of this situation in the long run. God will provide you strength. God will bring justice in the end. And hopefully God will heal the offender too. Take comfort in God’s love for you. If you have trouble understanding “why God let’s bad things happen” take a look at my post on Christianity and scroll down to the heading “Why Do We Have to Suffer.”

6) If you don’t believe in God, then at least know that in science all things eventually come to equilibrium. And so, turn it over to the universe. Turn it over to your friends’ and family’s love for you. Allow yourself to be comforted and strengthened by their love.

7) Write it Down. Take all these suggestions and journal about your feelings and then write down the answers to the questions: How will I forgive? What will I gain by forgiving? What is the good in all this? What have I learned? How will my life be better by forgiving?

What Have You Got to Lose? – Only Peace

Who are you holding resentment against? Who are you angry at? Who do you hate? Do you want release from this heavy yoke around your heart? Do you want peace and happiness? Try forgiveness… for your sake. Take it slow. It is a process. Over time you can watch your anger melt. The Dalai Lama is said to have the heart health of a 20 year old according to his doctors. Why is that? Perhaps it just might be that he holds no anger. Imagine what it could do for you!

Please share your comments, experiences, and tips on Forgiveness! All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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68 Responses to Do You Know How to Really Forgive Someone?

  1. Dee May 22, 2007 at 1:31 pm #

    Nice article.. very well written :)

  2. AgentSully May 22, 2007 at 3:09 pm #

    Thanks Dee. I know how hard forgiving can be. Hopefully this will help other people who also have difficulty with it.

    I appreciate your encouragement! thanks!

  3. Mirage Chopper May 22, 2007 at 8:08 pm #

    I think that the majority of people in this sick world need to revise their thoughts and listen to what you have to say. Well said.

  4. Som May 22, 2007 at 9:32 pm #

    It is said in the Vedas that there is God in every soul/human being. If we are angry with someone, then imagine God in them. Who would be angry against God?
    That doesn’t mean you suffer with what ever they do. If you have to retaliate against ‘evil’, you have to do it after thinking through and if you are doing the right thing by retaliating, please do – however your action should be ‘right’ in the eyes of God.
    This a derived story: Two people were traveling in a train. One person had his coat on the seat next to him and had dozed off. Another person who just got into the train threw the coat out of the window and sat in that chair (without even bothering to wake the person who was sleeping). Now that person woke up and asked where his coat was..only to be told that it was thrown out.
    Now should this person excuse or retaliate???
    In my opinion retaliate fairly – say throw something (coat/ hat/ equal value) of that person out of the window !!! how else will you be able to teach a lesson? or should you even bother to teach a lesson.
    Does not life always tell us: do not be a coward? What would you say?
    Of course situations in life are not as easy as throwing coats :)..

  5. listr May 22, 2007 at 10:33 pm #

    hi

    there is this page i found which tracks all the top blogs about personal development in just a single page
    http://www.netreputation.co.uk/directory/Personal%20Development
    you are on it too

  6. AgentSully May 22, 2007 at 11:57 pm #

    Mirage Chopper – thank you for your compliment and comment.

    Som – hmmm. for me, generally I think retaliation doesn’t get you where you want to go. I like the story as an example:

    A monk (I think) is robbed of his only possession while he is sleeping, his clothes. He awakes and sees the man running away and his first thought is “Oh, my, I wish I had had some better clothes for him.” I can’t remember the whole thing but that was the gist. He figured the robber needed it more than him.

    About the guy who threw the clothes out the window on the train, I think we have the opportunity to change people more effectively with kindness than with venom. (I know my initial reaction would probably be anger. It’s not easy to be kind in such situations.)

    Perhaps the answer would be to offer to buy him coffee. Imagine how he might feel them. Just a thought. Of course, when faced with immediate danger, we need to protect ourselves. Thank you for this thought provoking question.
    What does everyone else think?

    Listr – thank you for passing along that info. That’s cool!

  7. Derek May 23, 2007 at 5:23 am #

    Thanks for visiting my blog at http://piecesofzen.blogspot.com. I left a message at Blog Catalogue, but it seemed to disappear. But it may turn up yet… LOL

    I feel forgiveness is not something you can actually “do” but more of a state of being which comes about after expanding awareness on a state of anger (non-forgiveness).

    Many of my clients ask me what to do if they find themselves unable to forgive, because they tend to say that the “other IS to blame!”

    I ask me them to just focus and expand their awareness on their grievances until they are complete – just another word for forgiveness (but without all the “baggage” that may be attached to the word forgive). This is a typical Zen procedure as Zen aims to transcend the relative and would say, “when you blame, just be with that blame, become one with it, until it is gone.”

    I don’t know if you have ever come across this site, . I have recently joined. You can have discussions, leave your URL in some discussions (where appropriate), and even get paid a small amount for using the site. Thought I would give it a mention as there are a lot of users on there looking for advice. If you use the link, you will be signed up into my “Friends Profile” and we can have further discussions – if it is not for you though, please forgive the intrusion.. Best regards, Derek

  8. Pipe Smoking May 23, 2007 at 10:45 am #

    Here’s how we deal with apologies and forgiveness with our kids:

    1. Say you’re sorry.
    2. Try my best not to do it again.
    3. Will you forgive me?

    It makes it much easier for someone to forgive you if they know you are truly sorry and that it’s not going to happen again.

  9. Brett McKay May 23, 2007 at 6:15 pm #

    Great post, AgentSully. For me, I have an easier time forgiving others than I do forgiving myself. I beat myself up for months, sometimes years, for mistakes I’ve committed. There comes a moment, though, when I just have to let it go.

  10. AgentSully May 23, 2007 at 7:02 pm #

    Derek, thanks for the insightful comment. I love what you said. I will check out the My Lot site. FYI -when I went to your site today, I got a 404 message….maybe blogger is down?

    Pipe Smoking – if it works for kids, it should work for grownups. I see my son forgive so easily. It inspires me to be easy going like that.

    Brett- Me too. I’m very hard on myself. In fact today I made a mistake and I really gave myself a hard time. I was so angry. Duh! I need to listen to my own advice!!!! That’s why I write it, so I will get it….eventually! :-) Thanks for the comment!

  11. Peter Aldin May 24, 2007 at 12:41 am #

    Whew! Straight to the heart. Posts like this make you re-exaiine reality and realise you’re not as clean and bitterness-free as you thought you were.

    Great process.

  12. Derek May 24, 2007 at 4:05 am #

    Thanks for telling me re. 404, just checked my blog and all seems to be working OK now. :-)

  13. Jennifer McLean May 25, 2007 at 3:14 am #

    great post. I had an amazing experience of forgiveness with the most significant relationship in my life. I “forgave” the unforgivable. What I really did was take care of myself whenever I was with them. I would anticipated their behavior and when they were consistently acting in the predicted pattern I chose to see it as habit and not get plugged in. Not getting plugged in changed into acceptance. Acceptance grew into amusement and eventually into affection… and forgiveness. Forgiveness was not my original intent, but by being present and taking care of myself I was able to shift into a new perception and forgiveness was the result. To this day i still have and amazing relationship with these folks and I still take care of myself. Thanks for the insights!

  14. Luisa Green May 28, 2007 at 12:16 pm #

    Hi AgentSully

    Thanks for a great article. Thanks too for your invitation to share my thoughts on forgiving. I really appreciate it.

    It is hard to forgive. When we hurt, suffer pain, betrayal, loss, abandonment – we fear. We wallow in self-pity. We are human. We suffer fatigue. Some[one] thing has let us down badly and we feel terrible. If we feel bitterly disappointed, we’ll go on feeling badly for a long while. Think how we feel in these bitter moments. Do we really feel better prolonging our fear?

    Please, please … pretty, pretty please let’s remember who we are.

    We are one will all creation. We are deeply and exquisitely loved. We are dearly loved. We are truly loved. We are loved beyond measure. We are loved unconditionally.

    Why do we struggle with this truth? Don’t we know how special we are?

    I am a walking star on a giant star. I value who I am.

    How quickly we forget!

    If you truly feel you can’t forgive – surrender, give in and let go. Let God.

    If you don’t believe in God – surrender, give in and let go. Let God anyway.

    If you feel you can’t forgive now – time is a great healer. Expect to prolong your agony until some “future� time – for as you think, so you experience.

    Surrender, let go – ask to draw new, more fulfilling, joyful experiences to your life.

    As you think, so you experience. As we think, so we experience.

    This is the secret to your success.

    You have undeniable power!

    Never allow some[one]thing to tell you that you are something other than a powerful child of the Light!

    Blessings

    Luisa

    Luisa Green luisagreen@everymanedict.com
    Everyman Edict http://www.everymanedict.com/
    Let’s grow in understanding together and live our being in love.
    Spiritual Prozac http://spiritual-prozac.blogspot.com

  15. Luisa Green May 28, 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    Hi AgentSully

    Thanks for a great article. Thanks too for your invitation to share my thoughts on forgiving. I really appreciate it.

    It is hard to forgive. When we hurt, suffer pain, betrayal, loss, abandonment – we fear. We wallow in self-pity. We are human. We suffer fatigue. Some[one] thing has let us down badly and we feel terrible. If we feel bitterly disappointed, we’ll go on feeling badly for a long while. Think how we feel in these bitter moments. Do we really feel better prolonging our fear?

    Please, please … pretty, pretty please let’s remember who we are.

    We are one will all creation. We are deeply and exquisitely loved. We are dearly loved. We are truly loved. We are loved beyond measure. We are loved unconditionally.

    Why do we struggle with this truth? Don’t we know how special we are?

    I am a walking star on a giant star. I value who I am.

    How quickly we forget!

    If you truly feel you can’t forgive – surrender, give in and let go. Let God.

    If you don’t believe in God – surrender, give in and let go. Let God anyway.

    If you feel you can’t forgive now – time is a great healer. Expect to prolong your agony until some “future� time – for as you think, so you experience.

    Surrender, let go – ask to draw new, more fulfilling, joyful experiences to your life.

    As you think, so you experience. As we think, so we experience.

    This is the secret to your success.

    You have undeniable power!

    Never allow some[one]thing to tell you that you are something other than a powerful child of the Light!

    Blessings

    LuisaLuisa Green luisagreen@everymanedict.com

    Everyman Edict http://www.everymanedict.com/
    Let’s grow in understanding together and live our being in love.

    Spiritual Prozac http://spiritual-prozac.blogspot.com

  16. praneet July 24, 2007 at 5:31 am #

    if you forgive anybody wherther its your mistake or not you will not become small or big.

  17. agentsully July 24, 2007 at 11:38 pm #

    Praneet – thank you for sharing your thoughts! Hope to see you again soon!

  18. Erikka Fasting Arone March 15, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    People really do not have to verbally express their forgiveness, although it is something to consider if someone asks for forgiveness. As long as we let go of our resentments and grudges we should be okay, at least with ourselves.

  19. Akhmad Guntar March 20, 2008 at 2:31 am #

    There is other way to help us forgive someone; that is meditate. There are many ways to meditate, but all of them have to do with not resisting your feelings. Through meditation, you can observe these feeling; you discover the self.

  20. Stephanie Daniels April 1, 2008 at 11:16 am #

    Very good advise, harboring these feelings is not good for our minds or our physical health.

  21. Breiona June 18, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    Thank you so much for this article! I have been searching everywhere for some advise that actually made sense to me and I found it!

    • agentsully July 8, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

      @Breiona – Thank YOU! I’m so happy to hear that this was helpful for you! Wishing you all the best.

  22. dana October 27, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    i’m a hurting person reaching out for answers on how to forgive. this article and these blogs are great and very helpful. now i will work on my process of healing…i hope. i really want to heal. i just don’t know how. i will take this advice and go to work, thank you.

    • agentsully October 28, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

      @Dana -wishing you all the strength, compassion (for others and yourself), and peace of mind it takes to reach that place of forgiveness. Take it one day at a time, one moment at a time. Wishing you all the best. Peace.

  23. mrs wells November 9, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    hi! this was a great article. i have been hurting for quite some time now because someone very close to me hurt me in the worst way imaginable. i thought i forgave them but i was still hurting and i kept bringing it back up. now i have the information to work on truly forgiving them and finally being at peace.

    GOD BLESS

    • agentsully November 21, 2009 at 8:27 am #

      Mrs Wells – wishing you much peace of mind and happiness. Thank you for sharing with us.

  24. JC November 26, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    Sometimes pride gets in our way of forgiving the seemingly unforgiveable. I am angry for a long time now because someone betrayed me in an email or so I thought. I refused their apology and added every incident I could to justify my staying angry at them. I refused to take the email in context of my situation at the time as they requested. My need to be right was far more important than doing what was right. I realize now I need to let go of my false pride and anger. Thanks for your guidance.

    • agentsully December 8, 2009 at 11:47 am #

      @JC – Sounds like you are on the right track. It’s never easy. One step at a time. Wishing you all the best!

  25. BrunoB59 March 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Having once been advised by a councellor that I was one of the angiest men he had met. Described as being numb and frozen.I did not feel angry, did not think I was until it was brought to the surface.The actual cause of one’s anger or the reasons,right or wrong for one’s anger get lost and diminish over time.But the associated anger or hurt may not. It gets buried. Start small, learn to let yourself feel forgiveness. Next time somebody for whatever reason blasts a car horn at you. Don’t blast back,leave it go no matter how much the other driver has annoyed you. Let another person into the traffic flow. Small things yes. A start nontheless. You will begin to feel it is far more comfortable,far less stressful, may indeed lighten your mood. By loosing your temper you will have allowed yourself to be hurt. Why do that. Give it a go even for a few hours. As has been said it may seem to much to forgive. It may take time. The artical is right forgive, let it go.

    • AgentSully December 28, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

      Bruno – Thank you for the validation and sharing your experience! Forgiveness is so healing. Thank you so much for commenting!

  26. Wes April 30, 2010 at 3:18 am #

    Great article amd I am new to this way of thinking and ‘cleansing’ if you like.. But I worry.. How can we really be sure we have forgiven someone? It is easy for me to say, “ok this person has hurt me in this way and I forgive them” but how do I know that really deep down I have forgiven them, I mean right down in my subconciousness? Is there any sybolic actions we can do that really gets any grudges out of our system for good?

    Great article you have helped me..

    • AgentSully August 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

      @Wes – to answer your question, I don’t know if you ever “reach the destination” of forgiveness as you “keep walking on the path of forgiveness.” Does that help a little?

      When you can have a smile in your heart and compassion for the person you are forgiving then that is a sign that you are getting into the “forgiveness zone.”

      Wishing you all the best!

  27. Tina September 15, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    This article is absolutely wonderful. I think it needs a companion piece, though. What about the other side? What about asking for forgiveness? Sometimes it is just as hard to ask someone to forgive you as it is to forgive someone else.

    • AgentSully October 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

      Tina – that is a great suggestion! Do you have any personal insights on asking for forgiveness?

  28. Velya November 20, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    I especially liked the following lines from your article:
    What did you learn about your inner strength from your negative experience? What did you learn about yourself that has made you a stronger person? This doesn’t make wrongs against you right. But it puts you back in the position of power, not victimhood.”

    A year ago, I never would have believed (well, deep down I probably did)that I would put myself back together so magnificently after a terrible betrayal, and that that wrong done to me went on to create Chica Peeps – a sisterhood of strength and support

  29. darlene March 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    can someone tell me what happens (according to the Bible) when you approach someone to offer your forgiveness, and they deny the “reason” and refuse this act of forgiveness. Does it mean that if they ask God for the same forgiveness for the same incident – he forgives???

    • AgentSully August 31, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

      @Darlene – I’m not sure what God will do in that case, but for you, it is in your best interest to Free Yourself by forgiving the other person regardless of what the person does.

  30. tamara June 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Wow this is what I needed I have forgiveness towards my boyfriend and right not I am gonna sort out my anger thank u

    • AgentSully June 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      @Tamara – wishing you good luck.

  31. Extremly Sorry June 14, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    This website was really useful. I know when i have done something wrong and i apologise but sometimes they don’t forgive me. They say if you treat people the way you want to be treated, they treat you right. I looked at this website to see how to properly forgive someone so they’ll forgive me when i do something wrong.

    • AgentSully June 14, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      @Extremly Sorry – wishing you all the best with forgiveness in your life!

  32. Talahi August 19, 2011 at 3:06 am #

    I dated a guy in college. I suppose for him it was more of a ‘someone to go out with when I come home for school breaks’. To me it was perhaps something that could become more.

    It ended abruptly. We went to a party, I declined him and he seemed annoyed and disapproving when he took me home. That was it. I wrote several letters, no response. A few months later a girl who knew someone at his college told me he had a girlfriend. I called and he said he did. Finis–the end. I wrote another letter and his fiancee wrote back to me. Her engagement announcement appeared on the back of my college roommate’s.
    Having graduated from college I began my career and realized that there was much more to life. I suppose I forgave him at this point. It no longer was an issue–I regretted that I hadn’t understood this sooner.

    For whatever unknown reason he contacted me again several years later. I was curious and we met. He didn’t mention ‘The Past’ and neither did I. I believe that was a mistake–I had been a very shy and passive girl and couldn’t think of how to say what should have been said. He was in the military, on the way to another state.

    Life went on–several decades passed. Several years ago I joined a reunion site for our high school. He contacted me–’Let’s Be Friends’. I was stunned. We met–said friendly things–it was Christmas.
    I decided to tell him in an email what I had never said. Not to blame or punish–just to to be certain we were on the same page. I had already told him that my feelings for/about him were more than his apparent feelings for me. That is how it ended when I was in college. We dated–maybe we were friends–and I just didn’t know.
    He is now divorced–after 25/30 years. He never said. He didn’t want to respond to what I told him, that was clear.
    I probably phrased it awkwardly, it was difficult to find the words–but something needed to be said.
    There was no anger but there was hurt. Had he said–’That was not one of my better choices’ or anything along those lines. That would have taken care of ‘The Past’.
    Instead–’I have no regrets’/date he started in the military.
    To me that meant–’You were never important to me’.
    So–why contact me? A moment of insanity?
    If I had dumped someone without a word I don’t know many people who wouldn’t have said–’Good to hear from you–sorry I don’t have time to chat.’
    It was rude, it was immature and to pretend that it wasn’t hurtful is beyond my reasoning.
    In such cases kindness and compassion don’t seem appropriate. I don’t know what I said in the letters I wrote–but there was no anger–I wanted to know what was wrong.
    Certainly, there could have been a deep hurt that led to this response. I believe it was the ideology of the military–presumably the ‘Have no regrets’ philosophy.
    Yet, I have known others who served in the military and they didn’t apply this philosophy to personal relationships. That leaves it was a convenient way out of whatever relationship we had. Cowardly.
    I forgive, but I no longer have the same level of respect for this man. He progressed successfully in his career. Had 2 kids, a wife who loved him and then became successful in his second career. Well thought of–friendly, outgoing, good at whatever he does.
    I am the one person that didn’t matter to him–so it would seem.
    However he feels about me–I think more of myself. I am certainly not a well-respected military officer, leader–a teacher for most of my life, but I know when I have hurt someone’s feelings. I know that an amend of some sort is courteous after an injury. I was insulted and I cried and wondered again –’Why?’ Then I said–’You will never know. You tried.’ I think of him differently now–maybe self-absorbed. I heard the words, ‘I, Me, My’ a number of times. Which under the circumstances was Ok. He is a very good person. I usually smile when I think of him but he wasn’t very considerate of me.

    Sorry about the long post. I think there are limits to forgiveness in some cases?

    • AgentSully August 31, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

      @Talihi – thank you for sharing your story.

      To answer your question, you must first answer this question and then you will have your answer:
      “Are there limits to why you should stay in the jail of resentment and anger? Is there any reason why you should say no to freedom of mind and heart so you can be happy?”

      It’s not about him. It’s about you and your choice to move forward with the life you want.
      Wishing you much happiness and peace.

  33. Rachel September 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    @Talahi – I believe that forgiveness is an ongoing process without any simple structure or lawfully “correct” methodology; forgiveness is limitless and never ever stationary. You may surprise yourself with how you evolve and how you feel about this situation tomorrow, a year from now, five years from now. I know I am constantly shocked by the power of forgiveness and how the soul grows.
    As for your situation, I have previously dealt with the same scenario and I have been on both ends. I hope I can bring comfort in stating that whenever I have failed to express my feelings, or lack of feelings more so, I always looked back at myself as acting cowardly; hoping that I would never leave someone who cares about me left in the dark. They deserve to know where I stand and to be set free.
    Now, if I do not carry the same affection for another, I ensure I verbalize that and I explain why. Most people seem to be unable to state their true feelings, especially if their feelings may hurt the other person. This is why some people initially (and yes, immaturely) choose to “fall of the face of the earth” without explanation.
    The act of leaving a relationship without an explanation or warning, although painful to the other person involved (such as yourself), seems easier than having to bear witness to the hurt that the other person feels.
    Basically, I believe that although cowardly, the “disappearing act” that you witnessed with military guy was less confusing and spiteful than you may have perceived. Sadly it isn’t until later that some people (such as military guy, or as I myself have experienced) realize that by avoiding the discomfort of a situation we actually bring more pain and hurt. That is why now I truly try to be honest about my feelings early on, and especially when I am asked to verbalize how I feel.
    -Also, you stated “He didn’t want to respond to what I told him, that was clear. I probably phrased it awkwardly, it was difficult to find the words–but something needed to be said.” -You should forgive yourself. You wrote exactly how you felt…as you said, you had to say something. Adversely, maybe he had no idea how you felt years prior when you dated, so your email/message may have caught him off guard and he was unsure how to react.
    I have reconnected with old friends and old flames, but usually just because it always nice to see a familiar face and I obviously enjoyed their company previously, just not on a deeper, intimate level.
    What appears clear is that: 1. He wasn’t very considerate of you / 2. He may have appeared and actually acted cowardly, but he may have also acted in the way he did because he did not want to hurt you(more so, bear witness to hurting you) / 3. It seems apparent that you both carried very different feelings and thoughts throughout this time; you appear to be in your own personal prison, while he does not give much thought to the past between you two.
    I apologize if sharing my insight and experiences with you have been difficult, and if I misunderstood your situation, but I hope I could offer some help or understanding.
    *I believe that by you seeking forgiveness-having found yourself on this page, displays that you are definitely going in the right direction.
    *One thing that helped me when my boyfriend cheated on me was to look back at how many great things transpired, thankfully, because we went our separate ways. Once I forgave him, (something I had thought of as impossible years before) great things just followed. Karma maybe? ~We had never talked since I caught him cheating, but years later after I forgave, he all of sudden kept trying to contact me, re-connect, and he even wrote me about his greatest regret- hurting me and letting me walk away.
    I was shocked, but had no need to reply. I just had the beautiful feeling of feeling grateful for who I had become and what possibilities came from such a seemingly terrible situation.

    Sorry for the lengthy reply, but I felt that I could relate to both sides of your experience.

    ~Let go – hope that his intentions were not derived from ill nature – understand that at this point, it is up to you to move forward and be responsible for your emotions, dedicating zero amount of your energy or thoughts to him, unless you can do so positively.
    ~Remember #6 – “things eventually come to equilibrium” – No matter how great someone’s life (maybe the unforgiven) may seem on the exterior, each person has his or her own problems/difficulties/ painful past experiences behind closed doors.
    ~Try to be empathetic towards a person’s actions because sometimes our hearts may be lightened, away from anger, to discover the reasons why someone acted the way they did.

    Good luck and I hope you find what you’re looking for!

  34. paul October 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    forgiveness

  35. Talahi November 12, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    Thank you, Rachel, whomever you may be.

    Of all the responses I have ever received on this–yours makes the most sense.

    • AgentSully November 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

      I have to give kudos to Rachel also. Yours is a very thorough and helpful response. Thank you so much for contributing!! Wishing you and Talahi all the best.

  36. Monique Battle December 2, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    after reading this whole article i have tried all these things and still nothing has worked… I only tried reading this because i wanted a better understanding so that i could understand why i am going through this… i really don’t understand why can’t i forgive this person, even through God and writing it down nothing ever works. It just breaks my heart and really have an impact over my whole life and it is nothing that i can ever do to help and or save it… what is my next step?

    • AgentSully December 2, 2011 at 11:26 am #

      Monique – Forgiving can be really difficult. It can be helpful to think of a metphor, for example you could think of forgiving as a large block of ice. It’s not something you can melt instantly, but it can be done. Strive for very small bits of progress, moments of compassion for that person, and build on that. Be patient with yourself. This is a process. Imagine that you have no time limit on this. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Be light on the inside about your work towards forgiving. Imagine your heart being open as it would be to a baby. You don’t have to forget. You don’t have to even be friends with that person. Release the transgression(s) for YOUR sake. Wish them well and wish yourself well too! And be sure to focus on some joyful things in your life each day.
      You will get there.
      Wishing you peace and happiness.

  37. parasram December 14, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    I need your help.
    How do you forgave for not only an act but due to the act you had to resign from your job and also lost three years of your life .
    As a result of this your whole personal life and personal development has been halted.
    What advice can you give me.

    Pravesh

    • AgentSully January 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Pravesh – The biggest thing is to accept that the past can not be changed. BUT you can change your future. If you focus on a positive future you will get there. If you stay mentally tied to the past, this will slow you down. Start working towards your positive future. Just make a decision to let it go. It doesn’t deny that something awful happened, but rather it gives you the opportunity for a better future! Go for it!

  38. aniangie January 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    i have a problem this girl she has done so many bad things to me over the past she was my besfriend i forgave her actually but i dont know if i can trust her again. shes one of those people where u forgive rhem and they do something else bad to you because she knows im going to forgive her again. i dont know why i do but i think is because im a nice person but im just really tires of it. but its like basicly cant do nothing about it shes the only person i have around right now any advice

    • AgentSully January 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

      Aniangie – also stay away from people who don’t respect you and treat you well. Just move on and don’t look back. Better to be alone than friends with someone who treats you badly. Seek out new friends and you will find them!

  39. aniangie January 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    i might kept forgiving her but i never forget and tht is wt keeps building on my anger most times i just wish to get back at her but idont because i know thats not the right thing to do but the fact that i keep remembering these things makes my life miserable

    • AgentSully January 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Aniangie – you’re on the right track. Keep focused on the positive life you want to create. Leave the past behind. Move forward and don’t carry the extra baggage of anger and hatred. You will get there!

  40. Rachel January 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    @Monique- You say that “nothing can be done”. I have said that before, and I was invigorated to discover that I was badly mistaken. If you feel it impossible to embark on a path remotely close to forgiveness, it’s okay. I swear to you, time will do most of the work. Right now may be a difficult period, but each hour, day, and year will bring you strength and power; I can tell this because your presence on this page shows that you are seeking out a path of healing and forgiveness. I thoroughly believe in the phrase “ask and you shall receive”. If you are still trying to “save this” (I assume you are referring to a person) then you must find peace with this (person?). I have been catastrophically wronged before, and ironically it was in war that

    I came to a life changing realization: No one intentionally does harm to another, or acts out viciously, for no reason at all.

    I never thought I’d forgive terrorist, whom fully believe in their cause enough to take their own life! Then, I felt I had to understand or my anger and hurt would cripple me; My faith and spirit was dissipating as my hate grew. I had to reach and reach for understanding. I finally realized that these terrorist, as small children, witnessed unbelievable amounts of violence. Their upbringing, culture, and family all played key roles in the actions of these terrorist. This does not mean I am okay with their actions, but this understanding- empathy- frees me from hate and ill wishes.

    In every seemingly unforgivable situation or hurtful act lies reason. Sometimes deep, deep thought is necessary to understand why someone would do something that hurts me. Sometimes I can tell that actions were carried out when emotions were too high, or due to miscommunication, or more so due to conflicting perceptions. Sometimes the only reasoning to discover is that the person is mentally ill, in which case they know not what they do.

    I believe that in most cases, the one who brings hurt onto another truly “knows not what they do”…they may realize it after the fact, or after thoughtful effort. You on the other hand Monique are blessed to be who you are. From your post I can tell you are a caring person who wishes for a peaceful heart. Just remember, you are responsible for how you feel and how you choose to react.

    I may have said this before, but the fact that you ended up on this page -posting in this forum, shows that you are on the path of forgiveness. Although forgiveness is a personal, unique, and undefinable development that is never static…by seeking it you are already on the path. By questioning forgiveness, you are already on the path.

    I don’t know exactly how you feel or your situation, but I hope that blessings and greater things come your way soon, and that you find the answers that you have been looking for.

  41. Rachel January 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    @Talahi, thank you for the kind words. I hope you are doing better than well. Also, Thank you for contributing your personal experience to the forum.

    @agentsully, thank you for taking the time to write this insightful article and for responding to all of us that post here. It’s refreshing to see such a positive web site.

  42. Rachel January 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    @Aniangie, what agentsully said was right on. Clear the toxic relationships out of your life. You can build new friendships; actively seek out new friends. It may take time & effort…maybe even discomfort, but it is a better use of time than the time spent with someone who weakens your spirit. Imagine the relief and joy you will feel once she is no longer a part of your life -think of that if/when you struggle to cut this toxic tie.

  43. Rachel January 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    agentsully, I forgot to thank you for something you wrote that resonated with me. You wrote:

    “I think we have the opportunity to change people more effectively with kindness than with venom. (I know my initial reaction would probably be anger. It’s not easy to be kind in such situations.)”

    Your statement truly rang true once I reflected on my progression through forgiveness. I wondered what transformed my thinking from bitterness, anger, and near hatred – to – understanding, peace, compassion, and empathy? Although the process towards peace took time, I never thought I would come close to it. The positive actions of others, especially in the face of utter negativity, is what remained with me. To face hate with love takes a strong person. I can recall some remarkable situations (much like the monk story you mentioned) that I will never forget. Love is powerful.

    Thank you, again, for the powerful words. I meant to thank you a while back, but an unusually busy schedule got the best of me. Currently, I’m snowed in for the night (hence the flood of posts). I wasn’t initially happy about being stuck at home on a Friday night, but now I’m glad. I was forced to slow down. (funny how I initially felt “stuck” tonight, trapped at home…but instead I found that I am finally able to enjoy some “me” time…and your inspirational forum)

    • AgentSully January 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

      @Rachel – Thank you so much for your contributions here and your encouragement for me and others! Wow! So helpful. I am blessed that you have joined in the conversation!

  44. aniangie January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    thax for the advice ill keep it in mind

  45. Jolene January 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Today my co-worker deleted all of my photos from my phone while trying to upgrade my camera on my iPhone. I did not ask her to do this and your post helped me begin to make steps to try and forgive her. I am not a techie person so I am also mad at myself for not learning to back up the pictures.

    • AgentSully February 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      @Jolene – so sorry to hear that happened to you. Hopefully goodness in equal measure to what you lost will come to you. Wishing you all the best. Thank you for sharing!

  46. Shara March 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    I have read this article and I still have a hard time forgiving my 2 old best friends of over 7 years for who betrayed me and left me for dead. I blacked out so i don’t remember anything that happened I have dreams from that night that are blurry and wake up in a cold sweat. Their is only one person besides the 2 girls that know what happened that night because she was their but whenever i bring up the subject she says she doesn’t want to talk about it. Its been over 5 years since that night and i still have the nightmares from that night all are different and i cant get any answers from why my 2 best friends hurt me. I have a huge trust issue where i shut everyone out I only have one friend because i just feel like im only going to get hurt and i feel that if i was blind to trust those girls i will only repeat the mistake and be blinded by others as well. I have tried so hard to forgive these girls but its to the point i cant even talk to anyone with the same name as them or i get angry and burst into tears. I moved far far away half way across the country just to get a new life started but i still find myself holding on to that anger and looking over my shoulder. I write down my feelings in a journal and try to look at the good in those people but i cant find any anymore. If anyone knows any good ways of forgiving people who have hurt you please tell me because most of the things i find has to do with spouses cheating and well it just isn’t helping me. I already tried to confront the person before I moved but they wont talk to me. I just want to let go of the anger I’m holding on to but I just don’t know how. Thank You….

    • AgentSully May 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Shara,
      That sounds like a very difficult experience you had.

      So there’s two things here. There’s the blackout and the abandonment.

      When you said you blacked out, what caused that? Were you injured by someone, fall ill, or was it from alcohol/drugs? The reason I ask is that if it was from alcohol or drugs that you willingly took, then that is something you should avoid in the future. That is something you can have complete control over, and should make sure that you take ownership of that so that you don’t put yourself in that position again.

      Regarding the abandonment, that is difficult. I would think there are two important things to do.
      1. Release those girls and what they did. You can not change the past. This means releasing the desire for the past to be different. Instead let it be something from which you can learn. There is a lesson in every difficult thing we encounter. Ask yourself empowering questions about this experience. Empowering questions give you back your power.
      Examples:
      What can I take from this experience that will make me stronger?
      What can I learn from this experience that will help me in the future?

      2. Examine the friendships with those girls to see what you can avoid in the future to make better choices of friends.
      What kind of friends were they prior to this experience? Was there an equality in the friendship of giving and receiving?
      Were there signs before this incident that they wouldn’t stand by you through thick and thin?
      How did they treat others? Were they mean-spirited? That’s the kind of thing that they could turn on you in the future.

      You should definitely discuss this with someone who is a professional. They can help you work out strategies for choosing friends that will support you. Choosing friends who share your values, which you can see through their actions, is a good place to start with learning to trust again.

      Trust is difficult because at some point it requires a bit of a leap. If you are choosing friends who demonstrate the qualities you are looking for, then you will be on your way to finding good friends.

      Let me know how it goes. Wishing you all the best! You will get there! Have faith! There are lots of very good kind people in the world. Seek them out.

  47. Merfango May 14, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    I am from a disfunctional family of eight, five siblings, I am the youngest. They were all brought up a different way to me – in a cult. I was freed from this at en early age and therefore did not endure some of the hardships that they encountered. There have been many ups and downs but myself, my parents and sister always remained close. All the others have in some way attacked either myself, her or my parents on numerous occasions, both mentally and physically. Two of them are diagnosed mentally ill and the others I think there time will come. She has decided however to pursue relationships with these people and I am really struggling to forgive her. I have decided to remove myself for the sake of my own family, but this is now causing strain on my parents and the sound of her voice mentioned makes me hurt. Feel at a crossroads.

    • AgentSully May 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

      Merfango, I would think being able to talk this out with someone would be very helpful, either a professional or someone who is wise, mature and kind.
      As general advice, I would say try to find that place where your release the desire to control what your sister does. That means releasing fears that you have regarding what she is doing.
      If keeping distance from those who are destructive towards you works for your life, my thought would be to continue with that.

      If your sister wants to try for reconciliation, then release her to do that. Don’t let it be in any way a reflection on your relationship with her. Let that be separate from any relationship she is pursuing with others.

      I know that these things are easier said than done, but I also know that if you can continually coach yourself, remaining calm even when the emotions feel hot, that over time, you can have a different perspective and reactions. You can free yourself from anger and then forgive.

      I hope this helps. I wish you all the best.

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