“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” ~Marianne Williamson
When you hear the word “forgiveness,” what do you feel?
Forgiveness used to make me feel uncomfortable. I would physically contract when I thought about forgiving someone who hurt me. I felt like forgiving meant letting them off the hook while I was the one paying for their hurtful words and actions.
I would play a scene in my head about what it would look like for someone to apologize and admit to their wrongs… and only then would I be ready and able to forgive. I put a moment that hadn’t happened on a pedestal. And in doing so, I outsourced my power to another person.
This kept me in a prolonged state of anxiousness, resentment, and heartache. I thought that I could bypass forgiveness because there was never an apology.
While apologies are helpful in healing, they aren’t always guaranteed. You can’t control what other people do or don’t do.
When you wait for an apology or project high expectations on what it should look like, you’re letting another person’s actions have too much control over your healing. And even if an apology is given, it can never fully take back what happened.
When I grew the courage to walk away from my partner last year, I felt so much anger for how I’d been treated throughout our relationship. He admitted to emotional cheating, he’d talked down to me, and he’d disrespected my time and energy.
The last text that I received from him was an apology, and yet I still didn’t feel like it was satisfactory. That’s because the ego will never be fully satisfied. True forgiveness has little to do with what the other person does for you; nobody can truly give you closure but yourself.
My path to forgiveness began when I received his text. In my final text to him, I was loving and wished him the best. It didn’t involve me trying to say one more piece to gain a reaction or salvage the relationship again.
It was me listening to the wisdom of my highest self that whispered in the depths of my pain:
“I am loving and loved.”
“It is for you, future you, and the people that love you, that you take this experience of heartbreak and alchemize it into love, acceptance, and peace.”
My old story of forgiveness was that it was naive and unrealistic.
But my new story? Forgiveness is empowering and healing. And my future health, well-being, and relationships depend on it.
Here are three lessons about forgiveness that my breakup taught me.
1. Forgiveness is a process.
Forgiveness is not like following the exact route on your GPS to spend a Saturday at the beach. It ebbs and flows. We can’t rush or force it, but we can be willing to welcome its healing effects over time.
It didn’t feel right to jump right from my breakup into a place of forgiveness. I needed to process the sacred anger, rage, sadness, and bitterness that I was feeling. Because I let myself move through these emotions in healthy ways, I was able to release a lot of energy.
I then decided I was ready to forgive. I made a conscious choice to forgive internally every time I was triggered or reminded of something painful. At first, it felt nearly impossible. But I reminded myself that it was going to feel hard, and loved myself where I was at.
I started with small moments of putting my hand on my heart and wishing peace for my ex. Then I began writing about my forgiveness in my journal. One day, I wrote a forgiveness letter to my ex (not to send), and then burnt it.
Over time, forgiveness feels more natural and reflexive, but it still requires intention. Be gentle with yourself in the process.
2. Forgiveness is for you.
Forgiveness is not about condoning, excusing, or minimizing someone’s behavior and actions. And it’s not about forgetting what happened or giving someone more chances.
Unlike reconciliation, forgiveness does not necessarily mean letting someone back into your life, although some people may choose that path to rebuild something stronger. But that requires conscious commitment from both parties involved.
When we resist forgiveness and harbor resentment, the only person we hurt is ourselves. In my case, forgiveness was an act of self-love and acceptance.
First, I had to forgive myself for staying longer than I should have. Then it was easier to energetically extend forgiveness to my ex and let go of uncomfortable emotions, like anxiety and resentment, which were keeping me stuck in a victim mindset.
I took my power back through forgiveness because it gave me permission to move on and created space for something more aligned with the highest version of myself.
When I welcomed the feelings of forgiveness, my energy had a ripple effect. Once I forgave my ex, I saw the best in other people and situations instead of projecting resentful, negative energy, which had previously kept me in a lack mentality.
Since I started to forgive, and love myself more, I have attracted more abundance, love, and success.
Gratitude now radiates from me and has helped me align with connections, business opportunities, and experiences that have been for my highest good.
3. Forgiveness invites compassion for all.
The by-product of forgiveness is an equally healing expression: compassion. When you forgive, you welcome full compassionate presence as you’re releasing the chains of judgment, blame, and shame. You begin to see the situation or person with a more loving lens.
As I started forgiving my ex-partner in my heart, I could clearly see that his behaviors were a reflection of his own internal struggles and pain. This gave me pause.
The feelings of anger and resentment slowly melted away as I saw a side of myself—someone who has also struggled, suffered, and made mistakes. And I couldn’t help but feel compassion for him, myself, and everyone who has felt pain because of pain caused by others.
Compassion is the antidote to the judgment that poisons our world and creates more suffering. It’s the greatest gift we can give and receive.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, but neither is carrying the pain in the long run. See forgiveness as a non-negotiable act of healing, empowerment, and self-love. It is the ultimate closure you seek, and it will radically change your life and the lives around you.