While forgiving often seems like something that you do for others, it is, in reality, something you do for yourself.
Forgiving benefits the person who receives forgiveness, and it benefits the person who forgives even more.
Many times, the person that has not received forgiveness has forgotten the event while the person who refuses to forgive continues to harbor anger and bitterness. Holding on to anger and bitterness harms the angry person more than it harms others.
I have heard many people say that they have experienced events in their lives that they cannot forgive. I suggest that line of thinking makes two common mistakes:
- Confusing forgiving with forgetting, and
- Confusing can’t forgive with won’t forgive.
You can forgive someone for their actions without forgetting what happened. If the harm really is severe and you believe that it will come back again in the future, you can choose to let go of the anger and negative thoughts about the other person without forgetting that they cannot be trusted in certain situations.
If someone has harmed you, you can forgive them in order to move forward and remember that you do not feel safe trusting them in the future.
Choosing to let go of anger implies an act of will. It is a choice, and most people (with only a few exceptions) really are free to choose how they think.
Initial anger might be beyond control, and that moment is temporary. Continuing to be angry is a choice.
To free yourself to build healthy, happy, productive personal and professional relationships, choose to forgive.