An inability to forgive can darken your days.

How to Forgive When the Person Doesn't Want Your Forgiveness

by Elise Wile

When you find yourself thinking about a person who has hurt you, thoughts of revenge may float through your mind, unsettling you and putting a dark cloud over your day. You know the best thing to do is to forgive and move on, but doing that when the person who hurt you is going merrily along her way as you seethe is difficult. Decide not to give the person who hurt you the power over your mental real estate. With such an approach, you'll find it easier to forgive the person who has hurt you, even if she doesn't want you to.


Consider the benefits of forgiveness when you are having difficulty forgiving someone who is not looking for it. If you harbor feelings of resentment, you deny yourself the healthy and enriched life that could be yours if you let go of bitterness. Forgiveness puts a dent in depression, lowers the risk of substance abuse and even lowers blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. When you are able to forgive, even a person who doesn't want your forgiveness, you grow in such a way that your other relationships will benefit.


Accept that your act of forgiveness will perhaps do nothing to improve the relationship, since the person is not interested in receiving this act. Lower your expectations, and focus on the results that you personally will receive from forgiving him. It could be that you will never again speak to this person or will need to deal with his indifference for years to come. Since you cannot control the outcome no matter what you do, decide to let go and forgive for your own good, accepting that some situations simply don't turn out the way you'd like.


"Look for the love, beauty and kindness around you," says psychologist Fred Luskin, Ph.D., in his book "Forgive for Good." Changing your focus from bitterness to the deliberate enjoyment of a life well lived will be the best revenge, he notes. When you think about how the person hurt you, you give him power over your feelings. However, when you choose to focus on your enjoyment of a new friendship or your plans to go back to college, for example, the hurt recedes into the background -- where it belongs.

Manage Stress

Practice stress management, advises Luskin, noting that doing so will calm the body's fight-or-flight response which is activated during times of emotional upset. When your stomach is not tied in a knot from thinking about how your coworker deliberately sabotaged your chance at a promotion, for example, you'll be able to think the higher level thoughts you need to make the best decision for your mental health. When you notice bitter and unpleasant thoughts beginning to surface, switch your focus to something else and take a few slow, deep diaphragmatic breathes to soothe your system.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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