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How to Forgive When the Person Doesn't Want Your Forgiveness

by Josee D'Amore

Forgiveness isn't for the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is for you so you can move forward from the hurt. It doesn't depend on the other person. Many times, it is difficult for the person who hurt you to own up to it or they simply don't see how their actions could have caused harm. In those situations, letting them know you forgive them isn't always welcome. You can still forgive them anyway, for you.

Make a Choice

Forgiving is an active choice that engages your entire being. Many times, it's a choice you make many times until the hurt stops hurting. It's a brave choice, and will likely not come easily. Making the choice to forgive the person who hurt you frees you from the hurt. You are no longer prisoner to the hurt. You can move forward in your life without carrying the burden any longer.

Say it Out Loud

Say aloud to yourself, for example, "I forgive you for breaking your promise to me." Be specific with how you were hurt. Saying it aloud allows your ears to hear your voice and your choice. Looking in a mirror when you say those words is powerful as well. Allow the tears to flow or the anger to rise. Express these emotions as a part of the forgiveness process. Repeat this process as often as you need to until the hurt has healed.

Write a Letter

Writing a letter without sending it to the person can be therapeutic. It allows you to say everything you need to say. Letting it flow from your heart with specificity of the hurt, how the hurt affected you and your choice to forgive are important to include. Writing it is for you, not for the person who hurt you. You need to express emotions before they will rest. Writing gives the opportunity to express your emotions while getting them outside of you. Keeping them bottled up inside of you is dangerous to your own well-being and physical health.

Put a Stake in the Ground

Put a stake in the ground to mark a day and time that you choose to start the forgiveness process. Creating a moment that you can look back on makes your choice real. This can be an important step when the struggle to forgive is strong. Having a marker gives you a point of reference to remind you of your choice. Some examples could be using art to create something that represents forgiveness, giving to a charity that related to your hurt or getting rid of an object that reminds you of the hurt. Be creative and make it meaningful.

About the Author

Josee D'Amore is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, where she is the founder/owner of Gems of Hope Counseling. She specializes in relational wellness including friendships, siblings, spouse/significant others, children, parenting, abuse/trauma, grief/loss and care-giver support. She is the author of "The Soul's Fight: Wrestling with Forgiveness".

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