How To Truly Forgive And Move On From The Past: Psychologists Explain

Truly forgiving someone and letting them exit your life with no hard feelings isn’t easy. At a certain moment of our lives, we all have been lied to, wronged in a way we did not deserve by someone. We all have been cheated on, betrayed by someone, be it a lover or a friend. The hardest part to digest about being mistreated is that it never comes from enemies, it’s always the people we love and trust the most.

As Dr. Robert Enright once said, “When we’ve been treated deeply unfairly by others, we should have the tools to deal with that so the effects of that injustice don’t take hold in an unhealthy way”.

Be it a cheating spouse, unsupportive parents, or backstabbing friends, thinking of where the people who you thought had your back did you wrong, will always make you feel a pang of pain in your heart. This is why completely letting go and moving on takes a lot of effort.

forgive-and-forget

Every Action Stems From An Emotion.

People react to maltreatment in different ways. While some might turn violent, others remain neutral. But most find it extremely difficult to forgive, forget, and move on. The reason for such long-lasting effects, in a psychological aspect, is: our brains are programmed to form a memory in proportion to the emotional arousal of the situation. Our brain has an inbuilt ability to remember emotionally impactful things that are especially related to abuse, trauma, etc, unfortunately.

So, our psychological health should resolve our negative emotions. We should figure out how to forgive in such a way that it helps us move on. Though this consumes time, effort, and emotional strength, doing so is very important in order to maintain a positive mentality in the long run.

Forgiving Begins With A Difficult Decision.

Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiving does not mean that you simply “Forgive & Forget” everything they did. In fact, forgiveness does not excuse their behavior, but it prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.

The reason we have a hard time forgiving is, as humans, we always try to rationalize things. One thing we should always remember is that; while we are not responsible for their actions, we are hundred percent responsible for ours. Also, we are solely accountable for our thoughts, emotions, and ultimately our peace of mind and happiness.

How Do I Forgive Them?

Below is a step-wise guide on how to forgive ourselves and others, according to Dr. Robert Enright, a pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness.

#1 It’s possible to forgive, know that.

First of all, we need to believe that forgiveness is possible and that it is a practical solution to the problem.

#2 Choose to forgive.

Understand how forgiveness affects our mind positively.

#3 Make a list.

Go back to childhood and make a list of everyone who harmed you in some way. Then prioritize by ordering the list. Those who hurt you the most should be in the top. Start to forgive from the bottom and make your way up the list.

#4 Let your anger out.

Analyze the state of your mind and how you’ve been handling your anger.

#5 Commit yourself

Tend to commit yourself to the act of forgiveness.

#6 Consider the other person

Think about the possibility of the other person being hurt because of you and if that contributed to yours.

#7 Remind yourself that the other person is human too

Think that you were both born to this world from a mother, will die someday, bleed, and are unique in your own way.

#8 Soften your heart

Be compassionate and let go of your anger.

#9 Don’t try to suppress the pain

Strong emotions you feel at this moment will bring pain but sooner or later it will allow you to move on with life. Then, you’ll see the strength in you.

#10 Reflect and discover

You’ll see right through others’ pain and that you’re stronger and happier.

#11 Repeat

Get back to the list you started with, later.

You can’t change the past by forgiving, but it will certainly change your future. It will be the sweetest revenge.


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