Ideas and inspiration for efficient living.


on February 19, 2012

There is a saying that goes, “Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

I think it’s fair to say that all of us have been offended or hurt by someone at some point and have been resentful toward that person.

Forgiveness is not just a religious concept. Research has been done on this topic and it’s become a well-accepted view that being resentment-free leads to a healthier and less stressful life.

The layman’s definition of forgiveness that I had always heard was “to choose never to use the offence against the other person again.” Forgiveness becomes a matter of choosing how to treat a person.

But have you ever forgiven someone in the above sense, and found that when you remember the particular hurtful event, all kinds of unpleasant feelings come up? You forgave the person, so how can this be?

I attended a seminar last weekend and heard a different definition of forgiveness: “to remember a hurtful event without emotional pain”.

If the previous definitions are correct, then this means that forgiveness needs to be two-fold: intellectual and emotional.

The conference speaker suggested a method of forgiving a person on the emotional level:

1. Write an accusing letter to the offending party. Put down anything that the person did that hurt you. The point of the letter is to get all the feelings out, without judging yourself for feeling any of them. The other person will never see it, you will burn it once you are done with the process, so you can write whatever you feel the need to write.

2. Once you feel there is nothing left to write, write down “________, I forgive you.” Get rid of the letter (don’t do like me and almost set your bathroom on fire!).

3. Take a new piece of paper and write the person’s name at the top. Then list the ways in which your relationship with that person will be different because you have forgiven them. Keep that paper as a reminder that you have forgiven that person. (You may choose to have no relationship with that person, and that can be a very healthy choice. An abuse victim is in no way obligated to seek reconciliation with his/her abuser.)

I tried the process for myself on the day I heard about it. I can’t say that it was an overwhelmingly emotional event. But there was something freeing in remembering hurtful things a person had done to me (no matter what intent they were done in) and allowing myself to feel what turned out to be a lot of anger.

As I let the anger come up, I realized that it was secretly bottled inside without me even realizing it. Do you know what trapped anger does? It eats you up inside and you don’t even know it. But eventually it seeps through the cracks like an active volcano and it causes vast damage.

This is why I think it’s beneficial for our own emotional health to apply both the intellectual and emotional aspects of forgiveness.

Because in the end, forgiveness sets YOU free.

Have you ever heard of emotional forgiveness? Do you think it’s worth a try?


4 responses to “Forgiveness

  1. Steeny Lou says:

    Excellent blog entry! Thanks for it.

  2. I genuinely enjoy reading through on this website , it has wonderful articles .

  3. Hello.This post was extremely interesting, particularly because I was browsing for thoughts on this issue last week.

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