The longer you live in the past, the less future you have to enjoy.
“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
There are seven people you need to forgive if you are serious about changing your life and learning how to live in the now.
Look, I get it. You’ve made mistakes, maybe severe mistakes, in your past. I’ve made mistakes too. I may not be able to relate to what you’ve done specifically, but I can relate to years of beating yourself up about past sins. And, in the most loving way I can muster, this is what I have to say about it: Suck it up and forgive yourself already. When you are kinder to yourself – more compassionate, less critical – it enables you to also be kinder to those around you when they too fall prey to their faults, fears and flaws that we “human becoming” all possess in abundance. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
There’s an Arab proverb that states that you should write the bad things that happen to you in the sand, so that they can be easily erased from your memory. However, most of us engrave the bad things that happen to us in marble; therefore, our painful memories remain immortalized in our minds.
Forgiveness is a choice, and it requires kindness and understanding to be able to forgive someone or ourselves. If you’ve tried to move on in life and tried to forgive yourself for a past mistake, you’d have ended up being your worst enemy and it must have seemed to you that you were fighting a losing battle. But understanding the right steps to bring yourself out of that rut is extremely necessary.
Is there something you can do in retribution for your mistake? Do you need to apologize to someone? Repay money? If your regrets are based on actual events rather than unrealistic expectations, consider taking action to make amends. Keep in mind, you can’t control anyone else. If you sincerely apologize, and they don’t forgive you, that’s their choice. Once you’ve done your part, you have to let it go.
Anyone you feel has done you wrong
Forgive your Parents
We grow up expecting our parents to be whole, put-together, and authentic. The truth is, often times, they are still discovering themselves and trying to make peace with the baggage of their past. As a result, they sometimes disappoint us. You must absolutely forgive them for every mistake they ever made in bringing you up. At the very least, you should be grateful to them for giving you life. They got you here. If you are happy to be alive, you can forgive them for everything else. Never complain about them again.
Forgive Your Siblings (and / or Your Children)
Forgiving your brothers, sisters, even kids are difficult at times. Is it worth holding anger or resentment against them? They are trying to figure life out through a similar pain and hurt that you feel. Honor that.
Forgiving them doesn’t mean you give up getting justice or what is right. It means giving up the injustice of allowing your hurt to re-injure you again and again.
When we hold on tight to unforgiveness, we pay a heavy physical, mental, and emotional price for keeping that negative energy locked up inside of us. You can still remain steadfast that an action be taken while you completely let go of the negativity associated with it on the inside.
You deserve better instead of bitter. Forgive them.
In doing so, you may discover that you can co-exist peacefully and live your life the way you want to. It all comes from within you to make it happen.
Forgive your Spouse
Marriage, like other close relationships, needs forgiveness to thrive. Remember that everyone makes mistakes. We all have bad or grumpy days. Most of us say things we don’t mean now and then. Everyone needs to forgive and to be forgiven.
This is especially true if the person who hurt you is attempting to make amends and seek forgiveness; it’s more difficult if your partner is not remorseful. But even then, you may find value in offering forgiveness.
In situations where there was an extended period of abuse or betrayal, but it is no longer occurring, forgiveness for the past hurt may take longer, and that is OK. You both must be open to talking about it and continuing to process it. Your process might even include seeking guidance from a licensed professional counselor or other mental health professional.
Forgive your Ex
This one can always be hard to forgive, but it’s something that needs to be done. Whether it was you that broke up with them or them who broke up with you, it makes no difference. Although things didn’t work out, at one point they made you so happy. Especially if it was your first love, they taught you how to love and all of the other things you need to know about to have a healthy relationship. Yes, it didn’t work out, but all that means is that it just wasn’t meant to be and that neither of you are at fault. Just because it didn’t work out with them doesn’t mean that you need to resent them and never speak to them. You need to learn how to be civil with them or even become friends with them again. But most importantly, you need to be happy for them when something good happens to them rather than hoping for negative outcomes.
Forgive your friends
One of the beauties of life is being able to forge beautiful friendships and alliances. But sometimes, these relationships do not go the way we want them to go. When friends make choices that hurt us or that we don’t agree with, what should we do?
If you have a friend you are harboring unforgiveness towards, you should forgive them without further reservations. You will be happier and freer for it. This doesn’t mean you have to let toxic people back into your life, but forgiveness allows you to move forward with your life freed up from the entanglements of the past. Forgiveness paves the way for us to live our lives in the freedom, so whether the relationship can be mended or not, forgive your friends.
Forgive Your Enemy (or person who significantly wounded you)
Former loves, abusers, bullies, horrible bosses etc. don’t deserve your forgiveness. However, your healing is not for them.
It’s about you leaving the past behind for good and opening to your future with clarity. Forgiveness gives you the option to allow a higher power to handle them from here on out. Once you allow the universe take charge of your enemies, you can get back to being the real, authentic you free from the weight of accumulated stress and managed expectations.
The list of people to forgive could be endless. Your neighbor, your coworker, your doctor, teacher, the people who anger you at work etc. I have left this item open for you to fill in the gap.
It doesn’t matter if the person you need to forgive has apologized to you or not or whether you think they deserve forgiveness or not. Forgiveness is the greatest gift we could all give someone this season, and Jesus encourages us to forgive without limits or conditions (Matthew 18:21-22).
In the end, we are giving a gift none of us deserve. But that’s the best part of all. God has already given us this precious gift. When we extend it to others, we get to share a piece of the love God so graciously pours on us.
We should know that when you forgive someone, you are releasing your anger, you are showing compassion and understanding, and you are displaying behavior of grace and acceptance. Doing all of those things will help you move on, but it will also make you love yourself.
It will make you proud of the person you are. So, in effect, you’re forgiving to benefit your own life. Who wants to walk around with anger, bitterness and that burning in them? Isn’t that exhausting? Get rid of it. I’ll go so far as to say you should tell your ex you have decided to forgive him or her.
Forgiveness benefits you more than the one who is forgiven. You may even discover an inner strength you never knew you had, that allows you to deal with the situation with a smile rather than in pain. You will feel a sense of freedom to move forward with your life, especially moving forward in a new relationship. The more you hold resentment towards your ex, the more you will be stuck in the past instead of creating a new future for yourself.