Right now, think of the worst thing anyone has ever done to you. Think about how it’s still hurting you to this day. Think of how much it has robbed you of over the months and years.
Picture that person in your mind right now. Can you forgive them?
It’s never easy to forgive someone who did you wrong, especially when you know that person isn’t even sorry for what they did, or at least isn’t aware of how badly they hurt you.
But think about it: They’re out there, living out their lives, oblivious to how you’re feeling… while you’re here harboring a grudge, and letting your bad feelings slow you down and hold you back from achieving the kind of success and happiness you want.
From bad to worse, don’t you think?
So here’s my suggestion: Learn to forgive as soon as you can. It’s just so you can get “unstuck” in life, start moving forward faster, and open the door to more success and happiness.
Learning to forgive has many proven benefits, including:
• Freedom. When you forgive, you’re free to forget most of the pain inflicted upon you by the other person. In that sense, forgiving is a bigger benefit for you than for them.
• Optimism. Forgivers take much fewer things personally. In fact, some really strong individuals don’t take ANYTHING personally, even personal attacks. They simply fix anything that may need fixing, then get right back to working on their goals. You should do the same.
• Strength. When you’ve forgiven a big fault in your past, then it’s easy to forgive other faults that come in the future. You can look at the slight and say, “Worse things have been done to me, and I’m okay,” and suddenly everything gets easier.
Now, you might be thinking: “That’s all well and good… but how EXACTLY do I forgive someone? I can’t just say, ‘I forgive them’—it can’t be that simple.”
You’d be right—it’s not a one-shot deal. Forgiveness is a process, one that can be distilled into four steps:
1. Admit and express your anger.
Let it out. Don’t think it’s wrong or weak to express your anger, otherwise you’re liable to hold a grudge for decades. If you need to let it out to a friend, a mentor, or a spiritual adviser, do so.
2. Know you’re not in the wrong.
Agree that whatever happened to you was not your fault, and that if you’re blaming yourself in any way, you should stop right away. Agree that it was the other person’s fault… but at the same time:
3. Accept the fact that they may never apologize, and that you may never fully recover.
Some past hurts can be too deep to heal. And that’s fine, because the last step is:
4. Grow stronger anyway.
That’s right—some people may find it hard to grow stronger after something bad has happened to them, but do so anyway. After all, the best revenge is a life well-lived, despite everything bad that’s happened to you.
Now here’s the kicker—all of the advice in this article can help you forgive other people, but they can also help you forgive yourself. And I think that’s extremely important, as well.
Sometimes, you might look back at your past failures and embarrassments and hate yourself for them. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, forgive yourself the same way you’d forgive other people, using the same four steps outlined above.
You’ll realize that most of your past failures weren’t your fault—after all, you didn’t know then what you know now. And while you may never fix those failures, it’s fine—you’re going to grow stronger anyway.
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