A famous quote from the English poet says that “to err is human, to forgive divine.” Everyone makes mistakes, but few people possess the emotional maturity to not people’s mistakes against them. It can often be easier to hold onto grudges than to forgive.
However, holding onto anger just lets us become even more consumed by it. No reasonable person would say that they want to be angry, but so many are happy to let negative feelings grow inside them.
If you want to learn how to forgive someone, this guide will help you out.
1. Consider the size of their offense
Not all wrongdoings are made alike. Some acts are so heinous they might be all but impossible to forgive. However, most are small enough that they can and should be forgiven. It might not be an immediate forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean they have to live inside you forever. Even if something seems like a huge offense to you, it’s very likely that it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
When someone has caused you harm, take a moment to think about what it really means. What has their offense deprived you of? Is it something that you can never get back? Did they hurt you or did your interpretation of their action cause you the most harm? Is this problem still affecting you, or are you just letting it affect it?
2. Ask yourself if you want to be angry
When learning how to forgive someone, you need to look inward. Consider your anger and think about all the pain it’s causing you. Take a moment to consider if this is something you want. It’s possible that you’ve become so used to anger that you’re afraid of letting go of it. However, that doesn’t mean it’s actually doing you any good.
As your rage courses through you, take a moment to step back and think about if it has any worth to you. There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry when someone hurts you, but when the moment has long passed, it only becomes a burden that makes you feel worse without any sort of personal growth.
Anger can cause us to fear our thoughts and believe that we have no control over them. In a way, we don’t. Our thoughts and feelings can come up without warning and cause us tremendous pain. We can reduce their power through the awareness that meditation allows us.
When you meditate, you don’t try to push your problems away. Doing so would only be counterintuitive. It involves observing your thoughts as you would observe a passing car. As you breathe and out, you can remember that your thoughts and feelings do not define you. Should your anger be triggered, you can distance it from your essence instead of letting it consume you.
4. Accept your anger
Anger doesn’t always start and end with the triggering situation. What often happens is that we get angry at someone for hurting us. Then, we get angry at ourselves for being angry. This leads to further frustration as we don’t know how to stop our anger from getting bigger and bigger.
An easy solution is to just accept that you are angry. You won’t be angry forever (hopefully), but you are angry at the moment. Emotions are temporary and you can reduce their power by letting them be in the moment. You can let anger pass like water through a drain by accepting it.
5. Talk to the other person
You might want to do anything but talk to the person who hurt you, but if you want to learn how to forgive someone, you need to have the maturity to face them. Forgiveness through avoidance can be much more difficult to achieve.
When you let yourself see the other person, you remember that they are a human. They might have caused you harm, but they are capable of empathy just like anyone else. You should let them know exactly how you feel about what they did. They might not realize how much harm they caused to you and feel genuine remorse. Remember to accept their apology and move on. Research suggests that forgiveness is good for us.
Pride can keep us from knowing how to forgive someone, even if we understand how it would benefit us. When we make the decision to forgive someone, we free ourselves of a tremendous burden. We no longer have to go through life with the curse of unhelpful anger looming over us.
If you want to learn how to forgive someone, you just need to remember what your values are. Do you want to be someone who is mature and understanding or someone who lets their mind be poisoned by the actions of others. We think we know the answer.