The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

When you’ve been hurt by someone you trust, you might feel angry or resentful, especially if it keeps happening. Forgiving the person who is hurting you can rid you of that anger and help you feel more at peace. We’ve compiled a few ways you can work on forgiving someone and setting boundaries to protect yourself in the future.

Steps

Method 1 of 2: Deciding to Forgive

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Acknowledge what’s happening. Remember the things that have happened previously and what’s still happening today. Don’t try to minimize it or brush it under the rug, as that can make you feel worse. Identify your feelings and recognize that what’s going on isn’t okay.

  • Think about how you’ve reacted to the situation and what you’ve done because of it. For instance, it probably made you feel angry or upset.

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Write down any lessons you’ve learned. Sometimes, being hurt has a silver lining. If there’s anything positive that came from your experience, take a few moments to write them down. This doesn’t mean you think it was good or even acceptable, it just means you can look on the bright side.

  • For instance, if your parents were the ones hurting you, maybe you learned how to be more independent and take care of yourself.
  • If it was a friend, maybe you learned what to look for and what to avoid in future friendships.

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Look at the situation from the other person’s perspective. Being empathetic can make forgiveness easier. Try to see it from their perspective, and think about why they did what they did. You aren’t making excuses for them or telling them that it’s okay, but you can feel for them.

  • A lot of times, people hurt others because they’re hurting, too. It may be helpful to realize that the person hurting you was also feeling bad about themselves.

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Remind yourself why you want this person in your life. When you forgive someone, it’s often because you want to maintain your relationship. Think back to all the good memories you’ve shared, and try to hold onto those. If you can keep those things in mind, you might find it easier to forgive this person.

  • Good relationships are hard to keep if you’re holding a grudge or feeling resentful. If your aim is to improve your relationship with someone, forgiveness is essential.

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Live in the present, not the past. Focus on what’s happening right now, and try not to get lost in thoughts about what’s happened. Relish the good feelings that are happening right now so you can enjoy your life fully.

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Talk to a mental health professional if you need to. Forgiving someone can be tough, especially if they’re still hurting you. If you’re really struggling with the process of forgiving or you find yourself ruminating on the past, reach out to a mental health professional for guidance.

  • Talk therapy is a great way to work through your emotions and find positive coping mechanisms.

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Write down your decision to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice, and making the conscious effort to forgive someone can help you out. Grab a piece of paper and write the phrase “I forgive you.” You can add details or more info if you want to, but keep the letter to yourself.

  • Forgiveness isn’t saying that the actions of that person were okay; rather, it’s saying that you’re no longer going to feel upset about them or let them influence your life.

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Try to hold onto that forgiveness. You might experience some residual anger or resentment, and that’s okay. Since forgiveness is a decision, just keep telling yourself that you’re forgiving the other person. It will get easier over time.

Method 2 of 2: Setting Boundaries

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Talk to the person who is hurting you. If you feel safe doing so, sitting down for a conversation might be helpful. Spell out your feelings and explain that what they did was hurtful. There’s a chance that they might not even know it, and they could even apologize.

  • You might say something like, “Hey, could we talk? When you constantly make plans and then cancel them, it really makes me feel like I’m not a priority. It hurts my feelings, and it makes me feel like you don’t value our friendship.”
  • Some people might get defensive or angry when you confront them. If that’s the case, talking to them might not be very productive.

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Explain what you’re okay with and what you’re not okay with. Some people really need you to spell out your boundaries for them. In clear terms, tell the other person what’s okay with you and what’s not. If they’re confused, you can answer any questions that they have. For instance, you might say:

  • “I’m fine with spending time together, but I need my alone time, too. Realistically, I can’t spend every single day with you, because it’s bad for my mental health.”

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Let them know that their actions aren’t okay. It will be much easier to forgive someone if they stop hurting you. Try to explain why what they’re doing hurts you and let them know that they should stop. Tell them that if they don’t, your relationship might change.

  • Say something like, “I’d really appreciate it if you put more effort into maintaining our friendship. So far, I feel like I’ve been doing all the work, and I’m a little tired. If this doesn’t change, I’m not sure we can stay friends.”

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Tell them you forgive them if you think it will help. Since forgiveness is a personal choice, you never have to share it with the person you’re forgiving. However, if you think it might help patch your relationship, you can let them know.

  • For instance, you might say, “I just want you to know that I’ve forgiven you for how you’ve hurt me in the past.”

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

Distance yourself from the other person if you need to. If their actions don’t change, it might be time to move on. If they’re a close friend or family member, you can talk to them about how you’ll be distancing yourself from the relationship. If they’re more of a casual acquaintance, just stop reaching out to them as much.

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