Make peace with the past

When someone treats you poorly or does something hurtful, it is a natural and healthy response to feel some anger. Anger helps you be aware of situations that are not in your best interest and can facilitate the separation process from an unhealthy relationship. But when we hold on to anger and resentment from past experiences we take them with us into the future. Nothing hurts more than when someone you love does something that causes you to reevaluate who you believed them to be. When someone betrays the trust you gave, it is painful. But letting what someone else did limit your ability to move forward means they still exert control over your life. Forgiveness isn’t about letting someone else off the hook for his or her bad behavior; it is about your emotional freedom.

Learning to forgive and make peace with things that happened in the past can happen more easily when you take your focus off of the specific events that occurred and instead try to see the perspective of the people involved. Most people don’t act with the intention of directly hurting someone else; generally, they make choices intending to make themselves feel better. For better or worse, it is in our nature as human beings to operate from our own self-beneficial perspective and the impact of our actions on others is often a secondary consideration. It doesn’t make it right, but sometimes seeing someone else’s perspective can help you understand the events that unfolded better and make them less personal. It can also be easier to forgive someone when you see them as a whole person. If you find yourself stewing in anger over something that someone else did or didn’t do, try to pull back and remember the good qualities you saw in them when you first met, and recognize that we all have flaws and we all make mistakes.

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