Tips For Understanding and Practicing Forgiveness

We often hear about the importance of forgiving others – and that’s true. Practicing forgiveness is beneficial to emotional well-being and even to physical health. But too often, we have a limited understanding of forgiveness that doesn’t go much beyond feeling better about a person or situation.

Forgiveness is not about excusing someone. It’s not about saying what they did was okay. Forgiveness is a process that involves letting go of the need to seek revenge or pay someone back for the harm they did to you or someone you care about. It’s important to understand what forgiveness is and what it isn’t so that you can truly recover from life’s painful circumstances and move forward in your relationships.
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You Can’t Truly Forgive and Forget

“Forgive and forget” is an old adage that sounds nice on the surface, but can be responsible for an unhealthy, harmful concept of forgiveness. Why? Forgiving others is not about pretending nothing ever happened, or acting like something painful doesn’t bother you.

Forgiveness isn’t an excuse for toxic relationships, or a pass for abusive behavior. It’s okay to remember something that caused you pain and to feel that pain when you’re around the person who wronged you. In fact, it’s natural. Feeling pain doesn’t mean you haven’t forgiven, or that you will be unable to forgive.
Healing Through Forgiveness


Choosing forgiveness, rather than resentment, allows you to release the pain you have been holding onto. As you choose to forgive, it will calm the stress your body has been carrying. This can help regulate your blood pressure and even give a boost to your immune system. Research shows that practicing forgiveness will benefit your overall health.


Through the process of forgiveness, you will begin to release your emotional pain and heal your emotional wounds. Forgiving someone who has hurt you will allow you to find the strength to move forward rather than letting your painful emotions hold you in the past. Forgiving someone does not mean that what they did was O.K. It's not about them or even how they feel about your forgiveness. It’s about improving how you feel because you chose to forgive and are no longer controlled by resentment and hatred.


Choosing to forgive can bring your spirit wholeness and peace that it has been longing for. But it can be confusing to know what steps to take to truly forgive and let it go. Talking to a pastor, priest, or a spiritual leader you trust, can help you learn to forgive in a way that meets your spiritual needs. Taking time for meditation and prayer can also help you stay focused on choosing to live in forgiveness.

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What Does It Mean to Forgive?

Forgiveness goes beyond feeling that you have forgiven someone, or feeling like you should be more forgiving. The meaning of the word “forgive” includes the following deeper ideas:

• Letting go of resentment: You don’t have to have warm feelings for someone in order to forgive them, but you should be working toward letting go of resentful or bitter feelings.

• Giving up the need for payback: If you have forgiven someone, they are no longer in your debt. Payback is not necessary. You don’t require that they pay you back for something they owe you. You don’t insist on getting even, or having something harmful happen to them in return.
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Healthy Forgiveness is a Process

As with any healing after pain, trauma, or the fracturing of a close relationship, learning to forgive takes time. Even if we acknowledge we forgive someone, the painful feelings we have about what they’ve done won’t immediately subside. In some cases, those feelings will always remain.

There are a few things to remember as you work on forgiving others:

• You’ll have to confront the deeper issue. Particularly if you are working to forgive deep hurts like abuse, abandonment, or betrayal, it helps to work with someone who can help you navigate that pain and help you come up with specific ways you can practice forgiveness while feeling emotionally safe.

• It’s a decision, not a feeling. You can decide to forgive each day, and that decision may come easier some days than others. Give yourself time, space, and kindness as you work to forgive.

• Forgiveness is an act of self-care. Even if you struggle to forgive someone fully, any effort to let go of resentment is going to help you heal and create more space for the healthier relationships in your life.

• You can ask God to help you forgive. God has forgiven each one of us and He wants us to exhibit that same forgiveness to others. Praying to forgive can go a long way toward helping you find peace.

TheHopeLine can help you make a path to forgiveness, even when it feels impossible. Forgiveness looks different for everyone and we all need help to forgive. Chat with us to discover how you can free yourself from bitterness and practice forgiveness without re-entering a toxic or abusive relationship.


When you don’t forgive, you are chained to the resentment and bitterness you are holding in your heart toward the person who hurt you. Choosing forgiveness can set you free. Bitterness creates a poisonous root which will spread into other parts of your life and impact those around you. There's a verse in the Bible that shares the truth about bitterness. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:15

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