How to Forgive Someone

How to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You

69% of Americans report that they hold grudges. While it’s an easy route for your brain to take that prevents you from having to process and hold space for complex emotions, resentment can have negative side effects both mentally and physically.

Forgiving someone who hurt you can be one of the most healing things you do for yourself. It doesn’t mean that what happened was okay, or that you should forget about it, but it does mean that you’re choosing to let go of the emotions you’re feeling. 

Here are a few tips on how to forgive someone who has hurt you.

What Is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness means something different to everyone, let me explain to you what it means to me as a therapist:

Forgiveness means letting go of difficult emotions such as anger and hate and process the grief caused by the person who hurt you.

Forgiveness does not mean reconciling with the person who harmed us, but coming to terms with what happened

Regardless of how you define it, forgiveness is a powerful act that can have positive effects on our physical and mental health. Forgiveness can help us to move on from the past and improve our relationships. It can also lead to increased of:

  • Peace
  • Happiness
  • Well-being

If you are struggling to forgive someone, there are many resources available to help you work through your emotions and start the process of forgiveness. Understanding how holding anger affects your health can be an important first step in the process.

The Physical & Emotional Dangers of Holding anger

We’ve all been there before. Someone does something that hurts us, and we can’t let it go. We hold onto our anger and resentment, nursing our wounds every time we think about what happened. 

But what we may not realize is that holding a grudge can be detrimental to our health. The physical and emotional stress of holding onto anger can take a toll on our wellness, leading to problems like headaches, stomachaches, and even high blood pressure. 

In addition, people who bottle up their emotions are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. 


Forgiving can be incredibly liberating and several benefits come with it. Forgiving can help you to let go of anger and resentment, two emotions that can be incredibly destructive

It can also help to improve your mental and physical health, as well as your overall well-being. Finally, forgiving  can help to restore your relationships and create a more positive social life. 

If you’ve been holding onto anger, pain, or resentment, then forgiving may be the best thing you can do for yourself. If you’re not sure how to release the negative emotions then read on for some tips on how to navigate the process.

Understand that forgiveness is a process

First, it is important to understand that forgiveness is a process, not a one-time event. Just as it takes time to heal from an injury, it also takes time to heal emotionally from a hurtful act. 

You might not be ready to forgive or your process might take more time. Just know that it is OK  to be exactly where you are in this process. 

Trying to force yourself to forgive before you’re ready won’t work and will only make you feel worse. We can’t skip phases or speed up this process.

Below I explain in more detail the process of how I handle forgiveness with my clients.

Acknowledge Your Emotions

Before you can even begin to forgive someone, it’s important to acknowledge your own emotions. If you’re feeling angry, hurt, or betrayed, that’s completely valid. 

Don’t try to bottle up your feelings or pretend they don’t exist. Acknowledge them, and give yourself time to process them. If you are having difficulty processing the anger or hurt therapies such as EMDR or Somatic Therapy can help you release these emotions from your body.

Once you’ve taken some time to feel your emotions, you’ll be in a better place to start forgiving.

Identify What Needs to Be Forgiven

If you’re struggling to forgive someone, the first step is figuring out what exactly needs to be forgiven. 

  • Were they honest with you? 
  • Did they hurt your feelings? 
  • Did they do something that betrayed your trust? 

Identify the issue, and then you can start working on forgiving them. Once you know what needs to be forgiven, identify the expectations you had about the issue or the person.

This phase helps you to gain clarity about the issue because  sometimes the pain we experienced when someone hurt us can be overwhelming.

Grief Phase

This is an important phase and it can take longer to process. When someone important to us hurts us, we experience a loss, whether it is trust, relationship, or even the image we had of that person. You can start processing your grief after the anger and pain has settled. Give yourself time during the day to get in touch with your grief. Journaling is a useful way to process grief, you can also seek professional help.

Practice Empathy for Yourself

Practice empathy for yourself. Forgiveness is about permitting yourself to move on from the hurt and pain. It’s also a process that takes time so you deserve some grace as you move through your emotions. It is ok to go at your own pace, do not rush this process to please others.

Understand the value of forgiveness

When you forgive someone, you’re not only taking away their power to hurt you, but you’re also freeing yourself from the negative emotions that can hold you back. 

So if you’re struggling to forgive someone, try to understand the value of forgiveness and what it can do for you. It just might make all the difference in your life.

If you decide to talk to them, try to do it in a calm and collected manner. Explain what they did that hurt you, and why you need to forgive them. Be sure to use I statements and avoid directly blaming the other person.

Building Relationships After Pain & Hardships

When you learn how to forgive someone you release yourself from emotional shackles that can hold you back in life.

If you truly value the relationship, forgiveness (with boundaries) can lead to healthy reconciliation. But reconciliation isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for forgiveness. For example, if the person who hurt you is no longer in your life or is unwilling to communicate with you, it is still possible to heal and forgive.  Forgiveness is possible even if reconciliation isn’t.

Set clear boundaries, the last thing you want to do is slip back into the relationship patterns that got you into this mess in the first place. Moving forward in a relationship after hurt can only turn out well when you set and stick to appropriate boundaries. 

If you’re ready to start the process of deep internal healing then please get in touch for a free consultation.

Scroll to Top