Forgiveness: How to let go of grudges

It can be hard to forgive someone who has hurt you. Forgiveness, however, is an important step on the road to healing and moving on with your life. Our relationships expert offers advice on how to let go of anger and forgive those who've hurt you.

By Louise Andre

Forgiveness: How to let go of grudges
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It takes a strong person to be able to forgive those who've hurt them and move on from a troubling situation. From fights with loved ones to misunderstandings with our friends, it's important to recognize the source of your pain and anger in order to move on.

Nicole McCance, a Toronto-based relationships expert and psychotherapist, suggests useful tips to help us move on from past troubles and forgive those who've hurt us.

Why should I forgive someone?
Holding a grudge to punish the other person for hurting you will do nothing other than make you miserable. McCance says it doesn't make sense to hold anger in because the other person did something to you, yet you're the one who is stressed

''If you don't let go, they have power over you,'' she says. ''By you grinding your teeth at night and obsessively thinking about the situation, well, guess what? They're enjoying their life, so they have all the power''.


How do I forgive someone?
To let go is to give yourself freedom. In order to forgive someone, one of the best things you can do is open up and talk about the anger you're feeling. ''Anger is an emotion you can feel in the body and unless you release it and talk to the person or talk to a friend, it's going to sit inside you and fester,'' McCance says. She also adds it's important to talk to someone you trust. It helps if you talk to a friend who has gone through something similar, so they can relate to what you're telling them.

Is it possible to forgive and forget?

According to McCance, it's impossible to completely forget. ''If we're hurt, I don't think we ever forget because sometimes the hurt can change us,'' she says. At times the hurt can be so deep that it changes the way you react to the person. It can also change your future relationships and the way you look at yourself.

I don't want to talk to them.

Don't be the type of person to shut yourself off from discussions because, often, talking things out is the best thing for an argument. Having a civilized discussion will not only let you express your thoughts, but it will allow you to listen to what the other person has to say.

McCance acknowledges that having your guard up a bit can be a good thing because it prevents people from walking all over you. ''If you constantly forgive them, you could be giving them the message that it's OK or it could be them taking your forgiveness as accepting their behaviour.''

What can I do if I'm stressed from hurt and anger?
Sometimes simply talking isn't enough. If you feel alone, know it's perfectly normal to feel that way. ''If you feel like you have nobody to talk to, grab a pen and notebook and put your thoughts on paper. You need to let it out because if it festers inside of you, it'll drive you crazy,'' McCance says.

Betrayal and anger stem from deep hurt and can leave you feeling broken. McCance suggests taking that anger and channeling it to help other people. If someone has hurt you, try volunteering your time at a homeless shelter or crisis line. Seeing your anger turn into something good will not only get your mind off of terrible thoughts, but you'll be helping people in need.


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