I remember a time when I was young I got upset with two of my friends and stopped talking to them for two years. I can't even remember why I got upset, but at that time it made sense to me to hold on to my hard feelings. At that young age, I thought that my behavior was reasonable and I didn't understand that the only person I was hurting by holding onto my feelings was myself.
Over the years I came to understand more that I didn't need to take the behavior of another person so personally. That's when forgiving suddenly became easier. What looked like a personal attack before now looked like a behavior of a person who was suffering, and therefore unable to act from a place of kindness.
Taking on this perspective opened me up for a new understanding of seeing my experience of other people more objectively. Not only did I learn to forgive more easily, but it also became easier for me to show up from a place of compassion.
Here are a few tips to help you see your situation from a wider perspective when you find it difficult to forgive another person.
1. Know That It's Never Personal
Understanding where the other person is coming from and how their behavior has nothing to do with you makes forgiving them a natural response.
When someone says or does something that hurts you, they are not reacting directly to you—they are reacting to their own thinking. They are not reacting to the reality as it is, but rather to their own perception of the situation.
When you are able to see this at a deeper level, you can become less reactive. If the other person does something that hurts you, instead of taking it personally, try to become curious. What makes them act like that in the first place?
2. Know That You Are Always Doing Your Best
You, like everyone else, are always doing your best you can with the tools and knowledge you have in the moment.
What looks reasonable to you when you feel the anger burning inside often looks like a mistake afterward. If you had known this in the middle of the storm of your emotions, you would not have acted from that place. But you didn’t know.
This is why you may sometimes do things that you regret later. The more you understand this, the more innocence you can see in every act of unkindness—yours and others’.
3. Remember That Anger Clouds Thinking
When you feel stressed, upset, or angry, you lose your ability to see the moment clearly and objectively. Your perspective narrows, your negative emotions blind you momentarily, and you see everything in a more negative light than usual.
Your feelings of hurt are overshadowing your experience. When you see this and take a moment to allow your mind to calm down, your understanding of the situation becomes deeper.
In the heat of the moment, you might do or say things that you regret later. You might be in the middle of an argument and say something that really hurts the other person. Deep down you know that you don’t really mean what you are saying, but your heated emotions override your ability to think clearly.
Every act that comes from a place of unkindness is coming from a mind that is struggling. Whenever you do things that hurt other people, you are suffering inside. Understanding this allows you to forgive others more effortlessly and gives you an opportunity to see your situation from a wider perspective. Not only will you realize that you don’t need to hold onto your negative emotions, but you can also recognize the humanity in every single person.
Everything resolves, one way or another, with the understanding that comes when your mind is calm.
What all this means is that you can forgive and choose to continue your life without the weight of your past, regardless of whether you still want to have the other person in your life, or not.
”Forgiveness is the discovery that what you thought happened, didn’t.” ~ Byron Katie