How to Be More Forgiving: 5 Techniques and 3 Rules

David - About Mindset - May 04, 2019

You must have been disappointed more than once. And you certainly had to decide whether you would forgive the troublemaker or move on. On top of that, you must have felt that even if you had wanted it, forgiving is hard and requires a huge amount of work from both parties. And even if you forgave, there is a high chance that you did not accept it completely.

Personally, I believe that forgiving is a great power that comes with great responsibility. Not only does it demand efforts from the person who caused trouble, but also from the one who wants to let pass.

This article goes about developing your forgiveness and learning critical rules to observe before choosing to pardon someone.

Table of Contents
How to Be More Forgiving: 5 Techniques and 3 Rules - Illustration - Picture

5 Techniques to Be More Forgiving

Before we start, this article assumes two things. Someone hurt you or made a mistake which you hardly tolerate. And this person isn't viscerally ill-intentioned. If the second assumption is wrong, move on. People who intentionally make the decision to hurt you and ruin your life are to be avoided.

1. To err is human, focus on what's beyond the mistake.

We all make mistakes. However, most of us do not mean to be harsh and to hurt. On the one hand, you must consider what you might lose by refusing to forgive. Would you really give up on a strong relationship for a mistake? On the other hand, the person who caused trouble might have done it unwittingly. Can you blame ignorance?

You must forgive people who do not mean to put you in an awkward position. And you also have to think twice before burning bridges with a person you've built a solid relationship with.

2. You've been given a second chance, don't forget it.

At some point, you blundered yet someone accepted to forgive you and to give you a second chance. You know how it feels to beg for pardon and to have guilt inside. You've been given the chance to redeem yourself because, somehow, someone has believed in your ability to apologize and make efforts to fix things. Remember that we all deserve pardon as long as we work hard toward it, and demonstrate good intentions.

Nobody's perfect, and neither are you. Mistakes are obstacles to overcome. They strengthen your relationships and demonstrate you can get over mistakes to keep someone around you.

3. Ask for apologies and efforts.

Forgiving is hard because it is going against two behaviors which are hardwired into your brain.

The first one is risk aversion. You don't want to experience the same pain again, you'd rather avoid the risk that it happens again.

The second one is pain intolerance. It is unreasonable to accept to let pass a mistake who's hurt you and, potentially, broken your trust. Your brain can't figure out what's the rationale behind keeping in good terms with someone who's harmed you.

To overcome these hurdles, you must be proved that your forgiveness is deserved. Hence, you have to ask your counterpart to sincerely apologize and make consistent efforts to get your kindness and trust back.

There is hardly any way to get someone to forgive a mistake by pure gentleness. Nowadays, solid relationships build upon time and acts. Making a mistake weakens these relationships. By consequence, don't be afraid of asking for apologies and efforts. It's normal, and you would do the same if you had wanted to be forgiven.

4. Don't take it personally and loosen your boundaries.

A mistake was made, and you probably got hurt although you were not the target and the troublemaker did not want you to be their victim. For instance, if your counterpart tells a joke about fat people and you find yourself fat and unattractive, you would get hurt while the initial goal was to make you laugh.

Your only solution is to either loosen your boundaries, be more tolerant and easygoing, or realize your counterpart did not mean to misbehave. Do not blame people for their faults if they could not know you would get hurt.

Learn to make the difference between a targeted attack and unwanted side effects you are the victim of.

5. Forgive unconditionally.

This one is your last resort. Assuming you are in a romantic relationship, you will sometimes have to forgive based on the sole basis that you love your significant other. Unconditional forgiveness is a skill I wish I had, and which I believe is extremely hard to acquire. However, if you have it, you are blessed.

It may also happen that the person who's made a mistake is someone you have a high regard for. In this case, you only have to decide whether you can forgive without expecting efforts and actions.

Be careful. Your insecurities could take over your desire to forgive unconditionally, even after you've forgiven. Unconditional forgiveness often happens when there is a quarrel between relatives or romantic partners. Love and family are values which outweigh punctual mistakes.

How to Be More Forgiving: 5 Techniques and 3 Rules - Illustration - Picture

3 Rules to Forgive Safely

1. Don't be stupid. In other words, do not forgive people who repeatedly make the same mistakes and are aware they do. You can be nice and gentle, but forgiving the same people who always make the same mistakes is dumb. It lets them take advantage of you. You deserve respect, not to be mistreated.

2. Don't raise false hopes. If you can't tell whether you will forgive or not, take your time to analyze the situation and make a decision. But do not tell your counterpart you'll forgive them if they make efforts if, eventually, you are not capable of forgiving. Be honest with people and with yourself. Let them know if they stand a chance to redeem themselves and get your approval. Do not tease them for too long, and be clear.

3. Respect yourself and your boundaries. You can forgive and tolerate a range of things, but you can't accept to lose your dignity in the process. You have boundaries, and other people have to respect that. You also have moral values, and you should not erase them to forgive someone who made a mistake.

You are now equipped to forgive people without losing yourself and without letting them take advantage of you.

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Anonymous Reader

Thanks for your healing words

David M. Author

You're welcome!

Mickey Miles Reader

Very well written and what a great message and lesson. No doubt in today’s world we are taught it’s not about forgiveness! It’s all about payback and retribution. Getting what’s owed instead of forgiving, healing and making the world a better place.

David M. Author

Thanks a lot for your feedback Mickey! I'm glad you liked the writing. I partly agree with your statement as well.

Nancy Reader

I am definitely one of the stupid ones. I needed to hear that today for sure.

David M. Author

Thanks for your comment Nancy! Please don't call yourself stupid. We all go through ups and downs. Good luck with forgiving!

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