Forgiveness is a healing process. Research suggests that practicing forgiveness leads to less stress, lower levels of depression, better self-esteem, and more satisfaction in life. Though it’s beneficial, it’s not easy, especially if the hurt runs deep. If you want to forgive, you must do the work to move past your resentment and pain.
Decide to forgive. Make a commitment to the process. Keep in mind that forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean keeping someone in your life. You can forgive a toxic person without remaining in a relationship with him or her.
Process your emotions in positive ways. You’re allowed to be hurt. However, if you’re serious about forgiving the person who hurt you, you must move beyond the desire to hurt them back. Rather than lashing out or turning your pain inward on yourself, find healthy ways to cope. Talk to a therapist. Start an art journal. Take up a sport that gets your endorphins pumping.
Use the REACH method of forgiveness. REACH stands for recall, emphasize, altruism, commit, and hold. Recall means thinking objectively about what hurt you. Don’t block your emotions, but don’t dwell on them either. Emphasis requires you to see things from the other person’s perspective. Note that this doesn’t mean downplaying their negative actions.
For altruism, you acknowledge that forgiveness is a gift you’re giving to the other person — and that it’s a gift that others have given to you. Commit means making a firm decision to forgive. Write your intention down somewhere concrete. No one has to see it but you. Next, hold firm to your forgiveness. Forgiving someone isn’t always an immediate thing; it can take time, and you might experience negative emotions for a while. This step means that you’ll remember your desire to forgive when those negative feelings arise.
Remember the positives. No one is all bad or all good. The person who hurt you has flaws, but they also have positive attributes. What are they? Take some time to think about or even write down their good traits. What made you care about them in the beginning? When negative feelings begin to surface, replace those thoughts with positive memories.
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