Here’s the truth: relationships inevitably involve hurt.  Sometimes we deliberately hurt one another, but most of the time we do it unconsciously as a result of our own unhealed wounds.  So what do we do when we’ve been hurt, perhaps badly, by a partner or anyone else for that matter?  Okay, take a breath.  Ready?  We forgive.

What?  Forgive my louse of a husband who had a year-long affair with his secretary then left me and our kids?  Forgive my bitchy ex-wife who constantly nagged and criticized me?

Yep, forgive them.  No matter what the offense, and I realize some of them are horrendous, you need to forgive and here’s why: holding onto bitterness and anger hurts YOU.  You may think you’re punishing the other person, but you’re really punishing yourself.

Not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  Holding anger, bitterness, resentment inside your body and mind will make you sick–physically, emotionally, spiritually.  How do you feel when you rant and rave about what he or she did to you?  Is it a pleasant sensation in your body? Is your mind at peace? Of course not. Your body feels awful and your mind is chaotic.  And is this what you want to lug around inside of you?  Is this angry, vindictive, victimized person really who you are or who you want to be? Do you really want to give the person who hurt you the power to continue making you feel miserable? No?  Well that’s what you’re doing when you hold onto this stuff.

And here’s another reason to forgive: forgive because you need to be forgiven.  How many of you have never hurt your partner, or anyone else?  Wouldn’t you like to be forgiven for what you have done?

Let’s get something straight.  Forgiveness does not mean that you weren’t hurt or that you condone the abusive behavior.  Of course you were hurt or this wouldn’t even be an issue.  It also doesn’t mean that you want to continue the relationship.  Forgiveness is about YOU…you doing your own internal work so that you can feel good again and move forward in your life.  The other person doesn’t even have to know about it.

So how do you forgive?  Here are some tips:

  • First, you make the decision that you want to forgive, even if you can’t see how you’re ever going to do it.  You understand that forgiveness is a journey…a process that happens over time.
  • Then you grieve by deeply feeling the anger, pain and trauma of the original hurt.  You do what you have to do to feel it…cry, yell, stomp around, hit pillows, vent with a friend…whatever it takes.  Allow a period of time to do this.  Weeks, months or years is too long.
  • After that, begin the process of letting go.  Letting go means focusing on the present; not dwelling in the past.  It could mean meditating–breathing in forgiveness, breathing out hatred.  Or creating an affirmation around forgiveness and using it as a mantra.
  • You might gain inspiration from others who have forgiven under appalling circumstances.  In whatever way you can, make peace with “what is,” and stop endlessly going over what was.
  • Focus on gratitude.  No matter what you’re going through, there are always things to be grateful for, and when you are grateful, you can’t be bitter.

Studies have shown that forgiveness is good for the body as well as the soul.  With forgiveness you become less anxious, depressed and angry.  You lower your blood pressure and heart rate and have more hope and higher self-esteem.  You become more flexible, less black and white in your expectations of yourself, other people and life.  You feel happier.  Try it.  I think you’ll find it’s well worth the effort.

Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for great tips and insights about finding peace and your internal wisdom.  You can buy it on Kindle worldwide from all Amazon websites, including


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