How to Forgive: Understanding Why

We're continuing our blog discussion today on forgiveness. Forgiveness can be very difficult to give when we're hurting. I found this quote by Reinhold Niebuhr that speaks to the essence of this topic: "Forgiveness is the final form of love." So true.

As Christy wrote yesterday, one of the first things we need to do to start working on forgiveness is to remember our pain and hurt. Once we've written out our pain, we can move on to the next step:

Understanding Why

This is one of the hardest but most important steps in the forgiveness process. We try to understand why someone may have hurt us, harmed us, or chosen to take certain actions. Note, it is not necessary to speak with the person who hurt us in order to do this step. We are not saying we're excusing the other person's behavior. Rather, the goal is trying to understand why they've hurt us.

The goal in this step is to create empathy for the person who has harmed us. Think about their life and why they may have made their choices and decisions. How does their childhood or past experiences play a part? What might have been their thoughts or beliefs? At this point, it would be helpful to write a letter to yourself, as if you were the other person, explaining your actions and thoughts. (Again, not excusing any hurtful behavior, but helping us see the whole picture.)

In order to be able to forgive someone it will flow more freely when it comes from a place of understanding than of anger. I know for myself there have been times when I've hurt others. I appreciate it when those individuals try to think about what is going on in my life or what my motivation might be, and offer me grace.

This step in the forgiveness process can be very hard to do. These steps are not meant to be done quickly but slowly and intentionally. Thank you for reading!

Written by: Tamara McCord MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.