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7 Practical Ways to Forgive and Move On

7 Practical Ways to Forgive and Move On

With the right mindset and good intentions, it is possible for you to forgive and move on. Whether it is getting yourself in the right frame of mind or if it is recognizing that forgiveness is tough, there are several practical ways you can get moving on the path of forgiveness. Let us help you make a change in your life that will pay off for years to come.

1. Recognize the Difficulty

“I learned a long time ago that some people would rather die than forgive. It’s a strange truth, but forgiveness is a painful and difficult process. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s an evolution of the heart.” Sue Monk Kidd

The struggle is real. I have heard many a time that bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. While that may be true, bitterness feels effective in the moment. It feels like the only just punishment for what has been done to you. I believe that feelings are a powerful tool that can give insight and help us make decisions, but when it comes to forgiveness our feelings cannot lead us into battle. The reality is that you will likely never feel like forgiving someone. That may come later, but if you are waiting to feel forgiveness for someone it will not happen.

A crucial step in forgiveness is recognizing that choosing to forgive someone is insanely difficult. It will go against all of your instincts. If it feels hard you are probably on the right path, so keep going! Set yourself up for success by recognizing that it will be hard and you are not alone in this challenge.

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“The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive.” Marianne Williamson

2. Tell Your Story

“When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.” Lewis Smedes

One of the most powerful ways to move towards forgiveness is to tell your story. Contrary to popular belief, merely venting is rarely effective. What makes a difference is having someone witness your story and validate your experience. Take the time to share what has happened to you with someone trustworthy. Healing begins when we face our pain in the presence of another person.

Carefully consider who will hear your story. As a culture we are not well trained in responding to another’s pain. Sharing your heart with someone is a vulnerable choice which can lead to healing, but if not properly cared for can also cause more damage. So care for yourself and choose your confidant’s wisely!

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3. Grieve Your Losses

“If I say, ‘I forgive you,’ I have implicitly said you have done something wrong to me. But what forgiveness is at its heart is both saying that justice has been violated and not letting that violation count against the offender.” Miroslav Volf

Some people would like us to bind up our wounds in a pretty package and move on with our lives. Many of us succumb to this social pressure and quickly gather our broken pieces together with a forced smile, leaving unaddressed pain lodged like a sliver in a scabbed over wound. Your wounds may appear to be healing, but with a thorn lodged under your skin there will always be pain. The only way to get through the pain is to experience and grieve your losses. Forgiveness is almost always about recognizing losses. What was done to you needs to be brought into the light and seen for what it was – a terrible loss of some form. You cannot sweep it under the rug or make it less than what it was. When you face the pain another person has caused you, then you will be able to take the steps towards healing and forgiveness.

“A personal offense is like a scratch on a phonograph record. I couldn’t move my thoughts beyond my pain. It kept repeating, as if I were stuck within its grooves. There was only one way to play beyond it. I had to forgive them, so my heart could take its form again.” Laurel Lea

4. Identify Learned Habits

“I tried to manipulate and control people, and I harbored resentment. I wanted to be forgiven, but I wouldn’t forgive others.” Lauryn Hill

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Part of forgiveness is being fully honest about has been done to you. This includes recognizing habits and patterns that you have adopted to compensate for your pain. The human body is not meant to harbor bitterness. Trauma, left unaddressed, lives in our bodies. How does your pain manifest itself? What do you do to daily act out the message that was sent to you when you were wronged? This question is hard to answer because it puts us in a frustrating place. It is easy to protest that the way we act is a result of the harm done to us, which is true. It is harder to peer into our own hearts, have compassion on ourselves and choose to take our lives on a different path. We do not need to be defined by what has been done to us. As long as we are acting out that message wrongly sent to us, we are allowing ourselves to be controlled by the perpetrator. A big step in forgiveness is admitting that we have (likely) also done wrong as a result of being wronged and not forgiving.

5. Practice Empathy

“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” Thomas Fuller

A big step in forgiving someone is to humanize them. This does not mean making excuses for what they have done, but rather recognizing that they are flawed and carry damage of their own. Recognizing the humanity in another person allows you to break some of those messages that bound you. For example, rejection is a painful experience that may have led you to doubt and even hate yourself. Empathy helps us to understand that being rejected was not a reflection of our worth, but a reflection of the flawed human nature of the rejector. Practicing empathy takes the damaging focus off of us and on to the true problem: the person causing pain. Forgiveness is a rocky journey made smoother through seeking to understand and empathize.

6. Keep a Journal

“I didn’t have a catharsis for my childhood pain, most of us don’t, and until I learned how to forgive those people and let it go, I was unhappy.” Tyler Perry

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Writing is a healing practice. It slows our racing minds down and teaches us to dance to a slower beat. Writing allows us to dig through the muck in our hearts or minds and leave it out on a page. Slowly the weight will come off of your shoulders as you learn to filter your thoughts. Writing can be a place to vent our anger, grieve our pain and explore our hearts. It can also be a place to revisit when struggling with forgiviness in the future. Forgiveness itself is a foggy jungle maze, that can be made clearer through the practice of journaling.

7. Push Through

“You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’ Maya Angelou

You will have a choice to make. Forgive or don’t. Then you will need to keep making that choice over and over maybe for the rest of your life. You do not need to forgive. It is your choice – liberating isn’t it? You can choose to hold on to the anger forever. If you do choose forgiveness however, you cannot wait until you recieve an apology or until you feel like it. They will probably never deserve your forgiveness and it will never be fair. But healing and living a full life requires us to forgive. Most of us are more determined to live our lives full and free than we are to get even. If you want to forgive there comes a point where you need to just do it. Without forgoeing the necessary steps towards healing, choosing forgiveness is often times a matter of ignoring every instict you have and just choosing to be finished with it.

No one escapes this life unscathed. If you find yourself needing to forgive someone, you are in good company with the whole human race. Take time to care for yourself in this process. Give yourself grace to approach each stage imperfectly. Embrace the messy. Life is hard, many times excruciating, but forgivness is a gift given to us. It is an chance to escape lifelong dread and [eventually] restore ourselves to freedom.

“It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.” Tyler Perry

Featured photo credit: Paulo Otavio Diniz Rodrigues via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

How to Deal With Anger (The Ultimate Anger Management Guide)

We all lose our temper from time to time, and expressing anger is actually a healthy thing to do in our relationships with others. Expressing our differences in opinion allows us to have healthy conflict and many times come to an agreement or understanding that works for everyone. However, there are times when anger can become overwhelming or damaging, and during these times, it’s important to learn how to deal with anger.

Expressing anger inappropriately can be harmful to relationships, both personal and professional. You may express too much anger, too often, or at times that are only going to make things worse, not better. In this article we will look at anger management techniques that will help you better control your emotions.

Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with anger.

Expressing Anger

Anger is a natural and normal part of almost any relationship. This includes relationships with your significant other, kids, boss, friends, family, etc. Anger provides us with valuable information if we are willing to listen to it. It clues us in to areas where we disagree with others and things that need to be changed or altered.

Unhealthy Ways to Express Anger

Here are some common yet unhealthy ways to express anger that you should avoid:

Being Passive-Aggressive

This is a term many of us are familiar with. Passive-aggressive behavior happens when someone is angry but uses indirect communication to express their anger.

Some of the more common passive-aggressive behaviors include the silent treatment, making comments about someone behind their back, being grumpy, moody, or pouting, or simply not doing tasks or assignments that they should.

This is a passive-aggressive person’s way of showing their anger. It’s not very productive but extremely common.

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Poorly-Timed

Some people get overwhelmed and express anger in a situation where it can’t really do any good.

An example would be getting angry at one person in front of a crowd of people. All that does is make people uncomfortable and shuts them down. It’s not a healthy way to express anger or disagreement with someone.

Ongoing Anger

Being angry all the time is most often a symptom of something else. It’s healthy and normal to express anger when you disagree with someone. However, if someone is angry most of the time and always seems to be expressing their anger to everyone around them, this won’t serve them well.

Over time, people will start to avoid this person and have as little contact as possible. The reason being is no one likes being around someone who is angry all the time; it’s a no-win situation.

Healthy Ways to Express Anger

What about the healthy ways[1] to adapt? When learning how to deal with anger, here are some healthy ways to get you started.

Being Honest

Express your anger or disagreement honestly. Be truthful about what it is that is making you angry. Sometimes this will entail walking away and thinking about it for a bit before you respond.

Don’t say you’re mad at something someone did or said when it’s really something else that upset you.

Being Direct

Similar to being honest, being direct is a healthy way to express anger.

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Don’t talk around something that is making you angry. Don’t say that one thing is making you angry when it’s really something else, and don’t stack items on top of each other so you can unload on someone about 10 different things 6 months from now.

Be direct and upfront about what is making you angry. Ensure you are expressing your anger to the person who upset you or you are angry at, not to someone else. This is very counterproductive.

Being Timely

When something makes you angry, it’s much better to express it in a timely manner. Don’t keep it bottled up inside of you, as that’s only going to do more harm than good.

Think of the marriages that seem to go up in flames out of nowhere when the reality is someone kept quiet for years until they hit their breaking point.

Expressing anger as it occurs is a much healthier way of using anger to help us guide our relationships in the moment.

How to Deal With Anger

If you feel angry, how should you deal with it right at that moment?

1. Slow Down

From time to time, I receive an email at work that makes me so angry that steam is probably pouring out of my ears.

In my less restrained moments, I have been known to fire off a quick response, and that typically has ended about as well as you might imagine.

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When I actually walk away from my computer and go do something else for a while, I am able to calm down and think more rationally. After that happens, I am able to respond in a more appropriate and productive manner. Doing things that helps you learn how to release anger can make an uncomfortable situation more manageable before it gets out of hand.

2. Focus on the “I”

Remember that you are the one that’s upset. Don’t accuse people of making you upset because, in the end, it’s your response to what someone did that really triggered your anger. You don’t want to place blame by saying something like “Why don’t you ever put away your dishes?” Say something more like “Having dirty dishes laying on the counter upsets me—can you work with me to come to a solution?”

When you are accusatory towards someone, all that does is increase the tension. This doesn’t usually do anything except make your anger rise higher.

3. Work out

When learning how to deal with anger, exercise is a great outlet. If something happens that angers you, see if you have the opportunity to burn off some of the anger.

Being able to hit the gym to get a hard workout in is great. If this isn’t an option, see if you can go for a run or a bike ride. If you are at work when you become angry and the weather permits, at least go outside for a brisk walk.

Besides working some of your anger out through exercise, this also helps to give your mind a chance to work through some ways to address what it is that upset you.

If you’re not sure where to start with an exercise routine, check out Lifehack’s free Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan.

4. Seek Help When Needed

There are times when we could all use some help. Life can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s perfectly fine to seek some help from a mental health professional if it will help you get back to a healthy balance.If you find that you are angry all the time, it might be a good idea to go talk to an expert about learning to control intense emotions. They can give you some sound advice and ideas on how to get your anger to a more manageable and healthy level.

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5. Practice Relaxation

We all seem to lead incredibly busy lives, and that’s a good thing if we are loving the life we are living. That being said, it is very beneficial to our physical and mental well-being to take time out for relaxation.

That can mean spending time doing things that help us calm down and relax, like being around people we enjoy, practicing deep breathing or listening to music. It could be making time for things that help bring us balance like a healthy diet and physical activity.

Many people incorporate techniques such as yoga and meditation to calm their minds and release tension when learning how to deal with anger. Whatever your choice is, ensure you take time out to relax when warning signs of anger start to bubble up.

6. Laugh

Incorporating humor and laughter on a regular basis will help keep anger in check and help you get over a bad mood and feelings of anger more quickly. This isn’t part of formal anger management techniques, but you’ll be surprised by how well it works. Remember, life is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed fully along the way through healthy emotion. Make sure you take time to laugh and have fun.Surround yourself with people that like to laugh and enjoy life. Don’t work at a job that just causes you stress, which can lead to anger. Work at something you enjoy doing.

7. Be Grateful

It’s easy to focus on the bad in life and the things that cause us negative emotions. It’s vitally important to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in life that bring us positive emotions, things that we easily forget because we get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life.

Take time out each day to remind yourself of a few things you are grateful for in order to help you learn how to release anger and invite in more positive feelings.

Final Thoughts

Life can be overwhelming at times. We seem to have constant pressure to achieve more and to always be on the go or motivated. People we are around and situations we are in can cause stress, anger, and negative emotions. At times, it can seem to be too much, and we get angry and our emotions start to get out of control.

During these times, keep in mind that life is an incredible journey, full of wonder and things that bring you joy. When you find yourself angry more often than is healthy, take time out to remember the good things in life—the things that we seem to forget yet bring us so much positive energy and emotions.

Use some of the tips included here to help with how to deal with anger and better control your emotions.

More Resources on Anger Management

Featured photo credit: Andre Hunter via unsplash.com

Reference

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