Living In the Past: How to Forgive Someone to Have a Future

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how to forgive someone

Although time stops for no one, your life will pass you by while you’re dwelling on the past. I lost a fair share of my time by overthinking painful events from my past. Until you learn how to forgive someone who has done you wrong, you won’t have a future.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a cornered, wounded beast. The situation would be far less significant if I were talking about physical pain — the flesh heals eventually. However, it’s emotions we’re dealing with; your heart will remain in pieces until you decide to take care of it.

Before I learned how to let go, my life was led by irrational behavior and anger. After all, a dog hurt by a human will fear the entire kind.

Yet, by choosing not to forgive someone, you’re only trying to hurt them as much as they hurt you. It’s time to change that.

How to Forgive Someone and Move On with Your Life

If a person is betrayed by a friend, they will question all social contacts. If a romantic partner leaves, the one left behind will find it hard to trust anyone who comes their way.

Why is letting go of anger sometimes so challenging? Well, a painful event doesn’t remain in the past — it stays with us. The human mind remembers powerful emotions — quite well, actually.

When you feel a strong emotion, your brain immediately makes a memory out of it. It’s like clicking the save button on your PC, really.

Because of it, a person vividly remembers their first kiss, something that happened when they were three years old, and unfortunately — all traumatic experiences.

What you need and what I needed back then are tools to recognize, observe, and deal with all those emotions.

#1. Learn What Forgiveness Means

I used to think that forgive and forget was the only option I had. So, I simply decided not to. Since I certainly couldn’t forget, and a certain person didn’t deserve my forgiveness, it was a mission impossible.

Forgiveness isn’t a process that happens overnight or by applying a single method. As a matter of fact — that would be completely and absolutely incorrect.

Forgiving is our way of dealing with a painful event. More importantly, forgiveness doesn’t have to include another person — it can be yours and yours alone.

In the end, perhaps you just need to forgive yourself.

#2. Take Responsibility for Your Actions

Questions like How could you? won’t get you anywhere — I learned that the hard way. More importantly, blaming others can set you back years.

If it were possible to tell people what to do or somehow control them, everything would be a lot simpler. However, we live in a universe where free will is the strongest power there is.

Since it’s immoral and extremely difficult to make others do what you want, there’s only one thing left to do. Take full responsibility for your actions, emotions, and your future. It did the trick for me.

#3. Walk Down Memory Lane

Once you realize that you’re in control, it’s time to act. A warning is in order — the following part won’t be easy.

In the past, I used to run away from memories I didn’t like. More often than not, this led to me staring into my ceiling for hours and being sleep deprived. And, when you’re suffering from chronic lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, and mood swings come knocking at your door.

The worst of all possible outcomes is making peace with chronic unhappiness.

I believe that everyone has strength in them to tackle their monsters. For starters, it’s necessary to make them get out of the shadows. My experience showed that facing your traumatic memory is the most important step in learning how to forgive someone.

#4. Recognize Your Anger

I believe that emotions are not black and white or good and evil. Emotions come as a reaction to an event. As such, all emotions require an equal amount of attention — anger is just one of them.

The fact is that anger will cloud your mind once you start thinking about what happened. Your first impulse will be to push the memory back to the darkest place of your mind. In my opinion, you should do the exact opposite — allow your anger to surface.

#5. Make a Promise to Yourself

Although “cutting a deal” with yourself may sound dorky, I think it’s an efficient method that can help you. The next step is all about making a promise to yourself and delivering on it.

I didn’t know how to forgive my someone because I was awfully suspicious. The worst thing is when that grows into paranoia. In the end, we only see parts of ourselves in others.

Finally, I realized that I didn’t trust others because I didn’t trust myself. I put my trust in someone I shouldn’t, which is why I started doubting myself. So, the source of my anger was actually not another person — it was me.

Before you’re able to learn how to forgive someone, you need to start believing in yourself again. For starters, make yourself a promise that you’ll find a way to forgive.

#6. It Takes Two to Tango

Once you resolve the problem you have with yourself, you can focus on your someone. That way, you won’t be left without words because most of the anger will be gone by then.

However, you have a choice here. In some situations, it’s not necessary to reach out and actually contact the person who hurt you. Perhaps you can find a solution by yourself and put an end to all of it.

To know the difference, ask yourself why you want to set up the meeting. If it’s to blame that someone, make a scene, and ask for excuses, you’re definitely not ready to communicate with them. In case you’re looking for closure, you’re good to go.

Sometimes, after resolving things with yourself, there’s really nothing left to be said or done. So, my advice is to ask yourself if you’re looking to meet up only because that thought has been in your head for a while. Maybe you don’t feel that need anymore — perhaps it’s just a matter of habit.

#7. In the End, We’re Only Human

The we’re only human excuse sounds cheesy to me too. Nevertheless, it’s quite true. People make mistakes because that’s in the human nature.

Perhaps you won’t find this part particularly comforting, but you’ll get to appreciate the human factor sooner or later. In the end, chances are that you also managed to hurt someone in the past, whether you knew what you were doing or not.

#8. Your Pain Can Make You Stronger

Although you may not see it now because you’re in pieces, your pain can make you a better person. To begin with, any experience counts — you’re going through something new, and you’re learning from it.

Besides, your empathy skills will develop too. Considering that you felt something new, you’ll understand the people around you more. That’s what happened to me, and I found my experience quite useful in a lot of situations.

However, to grow as a person is only possible if you heal properly. Once you learn how to forgive someone and start living in the present, you’ll finally start appreciating what you’ve been through.

#9. You Are Not in a Hurry

While some people don’t need longer than a shower to put a hurtful situation behind them, others might need years.

As I’ve understood, we all grow and develop at our own pace. Just because someone can leave the past where it should be faster than you, that doesn’t make them smarter or better. You should go through this process at your own pace — the road to recovery is never the same.

However, be careful not to prolong the situation more than you should. Also, you shouldn’t lie to yourself that you’re working on yourself when you’re actually not. As long as you’re making continuous progress, even if you’re taking baby steps, you will be satisfied.

#10. You Deserve to Be Happy

Happiness is your right. Being happy isn’t a privilege, and you shouldn’t forget about it even when you’re in a dark place.

Other than being your right, happiness is also a choice. It’s up to you to make that choice. You can either stay unhappy, depressed, and broken, or decide to be brave and do something about it.

Conclusion

Do you know what kintsugi is? I accidentally heard about it, and the meaning has stayed with me ever since. When translated from Japanese, kintsugi means golden repair.

To explain — instead of getting rid of broken pottery, Japanese people found a way to both repair and make it more valuable. When a piece of pottery breaks, it can be taken to an artist who will mend it with gold.

Even though you may feel like you’re in pieces, you can look up to Japanese people. You can become a better version of yourself if you set your mind on learning how to forgive someone.