If you hold a grievance about another person, you can become weighed down by negative thoughts and emotions.
Forgiveness can release you from grievance. It can neutralise anger, resentment and blame. And lead to reconciliation, peace and resolution. It can be profoundly healing on an individual and interpersonal level.
Forgiveness is a process of letting go of one’s anger and resentment towards a person. Whilst also ceasing to yearn for retribution against them.
However, forgiveness should not be confused with endorsing or justifying a person’s actions. For example, if someone has acted against you in heinous ways, it is normal to feel anger and resentment. And it is normal to seek justice for criminal offences.
But just because your emotions are justified, doesn’t mean they are helpful to your well-being.
By recognising that holding on to grievance is a burden to you — you can start to honour your own inner peace and release yourself from emotions such as anger, resentment and bitterness.
To forgive someone, you have to be committed to letting go of your grievance with them. You have to cultivate an attitude whereby you are actively seeking peace of mind.
So, you make an ongoing effort to adjust your attention. You monitor your sentiments, and you stop yourself from replaying negative thoughts and emotions.
You come to terms with what happened, and detach yourself from the rancour of blame. You acknowledge that what happened, happened in the past, and cannot be changed.
The easiest way to forgive someone, is to have compassion for them. If you can recognise the other person’s issues and insecurities, and understand that how they were acting was due to their own weaknesses — you can more easily let go of your grievances.
As soon as you feel compassion for someone, you will start to neutralise negative sentiments you were holding on to. But if you can’t find compassion for the person, that’s okay, it isn’t necessary. Just focus on letting go of anger, resentment and vengeance. And getting yourself to a neutral stance.
Try not to think about the forgiveness process in terms of what the other person deserves. Do it primarily for your own inner peace. Aim to let go of your grievance so that it isn’t dragging you down, or negatively affecting the people you care about.
By focusing your thoughts on what you are grateful for in life. And by doing activities that enhance your life and move you forward — you can make the process of forgiveness easier. So, you make a decision to not allow the grievance to disrupt your life, and then you give it less and less importance and attention.
Depending on your circumstances, it may help to express yourself.
The act of expressing how you have felt can help to release you from grievance. But you have to be willing to let the grievance go. So, ideally, you’ve already come to terms with what happened, and then you simply tell the person how you felt. And it’s usually a good idea to admit any of your own wrongdoings up front if that’s appropriate.
But don’t expect anything in return. Don’t hinge this process on whether or not you receive an apology. This is about freeing yourself from the burden of negativity, it’s not necessarily about reconciliation. The process of forgiveness does not require reconciliation.
However, if you communicate clearly, sincerely and calmly. And you describe what happened and how it made you feel, with no expectations or demands about a resolution. Then reconciliation can often be made.
Also, try to see things from the other person’s perspective. And maybe you realise that you didn’t act entirely honourably, either. Sometimes, all it takes to resolve twenty years of bitterness is a phone call and an honest conversation.
If you are no longer in touch with a person you have a grievance with, or you feel it would be too difficult to speak with them, you could write a letter to them expressing how you have felt. And then burn the letter or watch it float away with the current on a river.
Sometimes, by allowing yourself to express your emotions, you can more easily let them go.
You could also try this visualisation exercise when you are relaxed or meditating.
Bring a person you have a grievance with to your mind and imagine you are talking to this person.
Express yourself — tell them how you have felt and explain what upset you.
After you have explained yourself to this person and expressed any lingering emotions, look them in the eyes, and tell them you accept what happened and that you are now letting it go.
You might softly say,
“I let you be. What is done is done, and we need not be entangled anymore. I release you. Bless you. I am free. You are free. It is done.”
If you feel a person has a grievance with you, you could work with other phrases. The ones used in the Hooponopono prayer can be very effective.
So, you think of the person and say,
“I love you, I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you.”
So, you imagine talking to the person, and you repeat a phrase to them that feels appropriate for the situation.
What you are looking to do, is to repeat the phrase until you feel the emotional rancour is being neutralised. The more genuine your sentiments, the more effective the process will be. And the softer you become, the faster you’ll be able to neutralise your grievances.
As you work with this process, you may feel a little weight lift from your heart chakra, at the centre of your chest. And that’s a good sign it is complete.
Then say goodbye to the person, and in your imagination, watch them walk away into the distance and disappear over the horizon.
Lighten the Load
When you make an effort to resolve, reconcile and let go of negative thoughts and emotions you have about other people — you’ll feel much lighter.