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Learning How to Forgive

Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT

For many people, forgiving someone for an indiscretion or misbehavior is not an easy thing to do. Contrary to popular belief, forgiveness is not about condoning or excusing the wrong doer’s behaviors. It is a shift in our thinking, allowing us to move past the wrongdoing and not allow it to take up space within our lives. It is a shift where we can move past the actual wrongdoing or event without letting it manifest ill will. We do not focus on retaliation or harm, and we can keep the person who inflicted the damage at bay in our lives. Ultimately, forgiveness is a gift to ourselves, allowing us to move past the event and grant peace and serenity in our lives while moving beyond the one who harmed us.

What are some steps one can take to move towards forgiveness?

  1. Take a sheet of stationery and draft a letter of forgiveness to the one whom you feel has inflicted harm or malice upon you in some way, shape, or form. Let them know fully the event or wrongdoing and how it affected you. Let the offender know what you would have appreciated truly happening or seen done and then finish the letter with a statement of understanding and or an explanation of forgiveness. This letter is for you to move past the transgression and not have to be sent. A ghost letter lets us move on in our own life, and that is what forgiveness does as well.

  2. Do not allow the indiscretion to take over your life, making you angry or upset every time you think about it. If you remain troubled with the event, write a letter to yourself and allow the gift of moving on.

  3. Suppress thoughts of getting back at the person for what they did. This will not make their wrongdoing better; it just makes your response to the situation worse, putting you in the same mindset as the wrongdoer.

  4. If possible, talk to the person about your feelings about the situation. Do not get argumentative; instead, calmly share your thoughts and feelings on the situation. If the other person decides to get defensive, end the conversation, knowing they were not content to hear about your opinions on the matter and change their behavior.

  5. If it is not possible to talk to the person who hurt you, try talking to someone outside of the situation. This could be a family member, friend, or therapist. Try to choose someone who will have an unbiased opinion on the situation so they can give you the best advice possible.

Forgiveness impacts our mental, emotional, and psychological health. It can significantly impact our relationships, depression, and anxiety. Grant yourself the gift of forgiveness. Remember that we cannot seek an apology from the offender to feel better, but we can allow ourselves peace through forgiveness.

If, after taking these steps, you still feel angry or upset at the situation and have no one else to talk to, our Harrisburg PA therapists can help you learn the skills to forgive and move on. Life is too short to spend it unhappily by keeping negative emotions. You can contact us by filling up our online form or by calling (717) 202-2510 today!

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