The power of forgiveness: How letting go can set you free

When someone wrongs you, it’s hard to forget and even harder to forgive. “How dare they?” you ask yourself. You play the moments back in your head and it’s hard to shake.

But forgiving is such a powerful and transformative act. While you might think forgiving someone is for them, it can also be for you. 

Forgiveness brings about healing and growth for all involved, so it’s important to harness it.

Important steps to forgiving people

Forgiveness is a complex and challenging process, especially in situations of deep hurt or betrayal. Since it’s not easy, experts say to follow these steps: 

1) Acknowledge the pain

Recognize and validate the pain caused by the offense. Give yourself permission to feel the emotions associated with the wrongdoing.

2) Choose to forgive

Make a deliberate decision to let go of your resentment and choose forgiveness as a path towards healing. 

Remember, forgiveness is a personal choice. It doesn’t mean you’re saying what happened was acceptable either. 

3) Work through the emotions

Allow yourself to grieve, express anger, and process the pain first. 

You can even seek support from trusted friends, family, or counselors who can provide a safe space for you to navigate your emotions.

4) Shift perspectives

This is the “money trick” with forgiveness. As hard as it is, try to understand the situation from the offender’s point of view. 

This doesn’t mean justifying their actions though. But instead, gain some insight into their circumstances, vulnerabilities, and limitations. 

This shift in perspective can foster empathy and compassion, which will ultimately help you forgive.

5) Practice empathy and compassion

Extend empathy and compassion not only to the offender but also to yourself. Forgive yourself for how this event made you feel.

Also recognize that we are all imperfect and capable of making mistakes.

6) Release and let go

Finally, forgiveness involves releasing the negative emotions and attachments to the past. 

This doesn’t mean forgetting or minimizing what occurred. It impacted you, and that’s okay. 

However, there comes a time where you have to detach from the offense for the sake of your emotional well-being.

It’s a process of surrendering the desire for revenge or retribution and embracing a new chapter of peace and growth.

After reading these steps, I hope you’re ready to forgive. By engaging in this forgiveness journey, you’ll create space for your own personal transformation. 

Remember, forgiveness will allow you to break free from the heavy burden of resentment. You shouldn’t be carrying that around. Lighten your load.

Forgiving also makes you stronger. In the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi:  “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” In other words, forgiving shows courage. 

When you forgive, you claim your power, nurture your well-being, and embark on a path of personal growth and fulfillment.

So, when you’re faced with the opportunity to forgive, remember that it’s a gift you give yourself.

Defining forgiveness

Simply put, forgiveness is telling someone “it’s okay” after they apologize. But to go a little deeper, forgiveness is the following:

Now that you know what forgiveness looks and feels like, it’ll be easier to visualize the process and enact the steps.

Benefits of forgiveness 

When you forgive, you definitely help improve the relationship with the person who wronged you. Giving them the opportunity to make amends and accepting it means you can move forward in a positive manner.

But what about you specifically? When you forgive, you will also reap the benefits of:

  • Inner peace 
  • Reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Emotional well-being
  • Overall well-being
  • Reclaiming your personal power 
  • Creating a space for healing and growth

The art of letting go

People will often tell you, “just forget it, let it go.” And my response usually is, “but how?!” When you’re in an emotional spiral after someone wrongs you, letting go is one of the most challenging next steps.

But the art of letting go is an important step after you forgive. When you forgive, if you don’t let things go, are you truly forgiving? You won’t reap the benefits that come with forgiveness.

To let go is to move on. Letting go is a practice that holds tremendous power in setting us free from the burdens of the past. This liberating act will allow you to release what no longer serves you.

If you learn the art of letting go, you’ll know instantly how to make space for growth, healing, and personal transformation. So here’s how:

1) Release emotional attachments

Letting go involves releasing emotional attachments to events, situations, or people that have caused us pain or distress. 

When you cling to negative emotions like anger, resentment, or sadness, they hold us captive and prevent us from moving forward. 

2) Find peace within

Letting go offers us an opportunity to find inner peace. When you hold onto grudges or regrets, your mind becomes cluttered with negative thoughts and emotions. 

By letting go, you’ll create a space for tranquility and serenity. 

Accept the past, embrace the present, and look forward to the future with a sense of peace and contentment.

3) Embrace personal growth

Letting go allows us to grow and evolve. Holding onto past hurts or limiting beliefs will keep you stuck in patterns that hinder your personal development. 

By letting go, you’ll open up yourself to new possibilities and experiences. You’ll shed the layers of the past and embrace the opportunity for growth, self-discovery, and reaching your full potential.

4) Release the need for control

Letting go involves surrendering the need for control over every aspect of your life. 

You have to recognize that there are certain things beyond your control. Relinquishing that control will free you from stress and anxiety.

5) Foster healthier relationships

truly selfless person The power of forgiveness: How letting go can set you free

Letting go of toxic relationships or past grievances can also lead to healthier connections with others. 

If you have toxic friends, for instance, it may prevent you from forming new, healthy ones.

Create a safe space for more authentic and fulfilling connections, based on trust, compassion, and mutual growth in your life. 

6) Cultivate self-compassion

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Letting go involves practicing self-compassion. Try to not hold onto guilt or shame for past mistakes or your own shortcomings. 

Embracing self-forgiveness and extending the same compassion to others will allow you to heal, grow, and nurture a positive relationship with yourself and those around you.

7) Live in the present moment

Letting go enables us to fully immerse ourselves in the present moment. When you release the grip of the past, you can engage more deeply with the “here and now.”

Find joy in each moment, appreciate the richness of life, and savor your experiences. Be free and mindful to feel. 

Remember, letting go is a practice—a continuous journey rather than a one-time event. It requires patience, self-reflection, and a commitment to personal growth

If you find it challenging to let go, you may need support from a therapist, counselor, or support group. There might just be additional tools and skills for you to practice and master to get to a more forgiving place.

As you proceed in this journey, trust the process, plus yourself. 

Picture of Ysolt Usigan Schmidt

Ysolt Usigan Schmidt

Ysolt Usigan is a lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years of experience working in digital media. She has created share-worthy content for publishers, Shape, WhatToExpect, CafeMom, TODAY, CBSNews, HuffingtonPost, TheBump, Health Magazine, and AskMen. A working mom of two, her editorial expertise in relationships, spirituality, mental wellness, shopping, and home are rooted in her everyday life.

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