Practical Exercises to Forgive Someone Who Won't Say Sorry

Practical Exercises to Forgive Someone Who Wont Say Sorry

Forgiving someone is difficult, particularly when the person that wronged you makes no effort to apologize. Perhaps you might even wonder why forgiveness is necessary, particularly if you don't plan on seeing the person again. The thing is, when you hold a grudge, often you suffer more than the person who has acted badly. Harboring resentment towards someone is hard work. It takes a lot of brain power. Learning to forgive someone can improve your own wellbeing.

According to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), our thoughts influence our feelings which influence our behavior. Think of two people who have been cheated on by an ex-partner. One might not have forgiven her ex. Every day she might repeatedly think to herself that her ex has acted terribly and that she doesn't deserve to have been treated this way. These thoughts may lead to feelings of anger and anxiety about the future. She may choose to decline invitations out, too busy ruminating over her past and feeling sorry for herself. Another person might think differently. She might think, having forgiven her ex, that at least now she is free to find someone who really loves her. Her thoughts might lead to feelings of excitement for the future. She might accept invitations out and meet new people. Not only is the second person likely to be emotionally happier, she is likely to be physically healthier, too.

If you are holding a grudge against someone in your own life, you might consider learning to forgive the person who has wronged you. Forgiveness does not mean that you are condoning the behavior that has hurt you, or that you are letting the person off the hook. Even when you have forgiven someone, you might still consider their behavior appalling. Forgiveness simply means that you are letting yourself off the hook, by ridding yourself of negative emotions. It means changing your thoughts to change your feelings (and maybe your behavior). Forgiveness isn't easy and it may take time. There are things that you can do to speed up the process.

Write a letter to the person that has wronged you.

This is useful if you've never had the opportunity to confront the person who has treated you badly. Tell them everything you feel about the situation. Let it all out. Tell them how their actions have made you feel and why you think things should have been different. Imagine them opening this letter. Then, rip it up. The point of this exercise is to expel negative energy from your life.

Write a letter to yourself, from the perspective of the person who has wronged you.

The aim of this exercise is to put yourself in the shoes of the person who has wronged you, and to realize that they are likely to have their own perspective on things. It's possible that you might identify some things that you did that influenced their behavior. It's also possible that their bad behavior was completely unprovoked, in which case you may like to consider where the person came from. Is it possible they were treated badly at some point, too? Consider them when they were an infant. It's unlikely they were born 'bad'; consider what sort of experiences they had that led to them treating you as they did.

Change your negative thoughts.

Consider how another person might view your situation in a better light. Someone who has been fired from their job, for instance, might choose to think of this situation as an opportunity, rather than a crisis. Consciously think of a sentence that captures the more positive view of the situation, and whenever you feel sad or angry about what has happened, replace the negative thoughts you have with the positive ones. For instance, replace thinking that it's unfair that you were fired by your mean boss with the thought that at least now you are free to pursue other, better job opportunities. If nothing else, think of what has happened as one of life's lessons that will ultimately help you to grow into a stronger person.

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