Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or how many years you’ve been on this earth—you’ve been hurt by a loved one before. Even if you’ve been blessed by the best relationships, even if you’ve always tried to do and say the right things, and even if you’ve only surrounded yourself with those who inspire you, we are all imperfect. And despite our best efforts for perfection, sometimes we hurt others (or get hurt).
That’s where the art of forgiveness comes in.
The value of forgiving people goes beyond bringing healing to a situation. When you learn to forgive both yourself and others, you grow and make peace with the past, allowing yourself to move forward without regret or fear.
Here are a few steps to perfecting this art of forgiveness:
1. Recognize what is (and isn’t) your burden to carry
When it comes to forgiving others, you must pay attention to what is (and what isn’t) your weight. You cannot accept blame for something you didn’t do, just as you can’t accept the people around you to pardon you for what you did do.
Take responsibility for the parts you played a role in and understand that others may or may not take responsibility for themselves. You can’t force someone to be accountable; you can only improve yourself and grow from this moment forward.
2. Stop trying to control situations that you simply can’t
Forgiveness isn’t about making a situation perfect, especially because you can’t make people act, feel, or think a different way. When you’re attempting to forgive and move on from a situation, recognize how you feel might not be universal—and that’s okay. Focus on yourself (as that’s the only thing you can change).
3. Give yourself time and space to heal
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to quickly go “back to normal” or “move on” as if nothing ever happened. Give yourself time and space to heal, to let go, and to move past any bitterness before you engage back with that person/people again.
4. Recognize when you need to walk away
Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean they need to stay in your life. It’s okay to walk away, especially if a situation is unhealthy or toxic. Forgiveness isn’t solely about giving that person closure. Sometimes, it’s about you and your wellbeing, too.