Not forgiving has many consequences: emotional pain, suffering, guilt, remorse, revenge seeking, anger, blaming, and negative behavior. Not forgiving creates ongoing conflict. Conflict puts you at higher risk for relapse. To forgive is to act as if the negative event never occurred. To forget is to stop thinking or worrying about the event or person involved. If you can’t forgive, then, accept that it happened, and forget it. Move on in your life.
Take five minutes now and write a list of the people whom you can’t forgive and describe the event or wrongdoing. Now write down the events or wrongdoing for which you can’t forgive yourself.
Forgiving another person happens when you accept they are human, have faults, and make mistakes. You let them know you will not hold hard feelings for the wrongdoing. Forgiving yourself is recognizing you are human, have faults, and make mistakes. Forgetting is putting those events behind you and no longer bringing them up. Forgetting is stopping all negative talk about and negative references to the event or your self (Messina, & Messina, 1999). Are you human? Every human being makes mistakes and does things they later regret.
Forgiving is expressing genuine remorse and regret for your actions or words that hurt or disappointed others or yourself. Forgiving is promising your self that this harm will not be done again. Forgetting is making a commitment to let go of the anger and pain (Messina, & Messina, 1999). Expressing true regret is the first step. The second step is behaving differently. The third is letting go.
To help you to forgive yourself and others:
- Face conflict head-on, resolve it on the spot.
- Develop skills for open, honest, and assertive communication.
- Get professional help when necessary to resolve problems in relationships.
- Recognize your part in setting up hurtful experiences.
- Replace dysfunctional thinking and irrational beliefs that stop you from forgiving and forgetting.