How to Forgive — Even If It Seems Impossible

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Inside: How to forgive, even when you can’t forget. We will also look at why you need to forgive and the negative health effects of holding onto resentments.

“In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.’ ~ Buddha”

What if someone hurt your child? What if you caught your partner having an affair? What if someone stole from you?

I bet you feel angry, hurt and more than a little upset.

But here’s the thing:

How do you prevent anger from overtaking you?

Because if you let it, angry will destroy everything beautiful in your life, like weeds drowning out the flowers of our gardens.

Forgiveness is hard, I get it.

But there are many important reasons that we need to forgive. And I’m going to tell you why you need to forgive and provide ten tips to begin the process of forgiveness.

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Why You Need to Forgive

If we don’t forgive than anger settles into our bodies.

This is the number one reason we need to forgive.

Anger is detrimental to our health.

In the post “How to Control Anger in Under One Minute” we looked at three simple steps to prevent ourselves from bursting into the incredible hulk when conflict arises.  We examined everyday annoyances such as traffic and the weather.

But there’s a deeper type of anger isn’t there?

A deep anger at our parents for being well, maybe crappy parents. A deep anger at our husband or wife, and even anger at ourselves for not living up to our potential.

This deep-seated anger can course through our veins for years locking us in an ugly prison of resentment, grudges, and hate.

So, if we are being honest:

Don’t we all have a grudge towards someone or something?  A heavy heart, lost loved one, or a belief that we have been treated unfairly?

If you do, you need to hear this, your family needs you to hear this.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’ ~ Buddha”

There are a lot of quotes floating around such as above, but we rarely hear WHY anger isn’t good for you, just that’s it’s bad. 

Do you ever just want to say to whoever “they” are, “ok I get it, anger is like a poisonous snake, now tell me why it’s bad for me and how I can fix it.”

How to Forgive

Why Anger is Detrimental to our Lives

1.  Health problems

Anger leads to:

  • Headaches and chronic pain
  • Insomnia and a higher tendency for alcohol and drug abuse
  • Stress, depression, and anxiety
  • High blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke
  • Skin problems
  • It also leads to diminished friendships

2.  Unhealthy outbursts

Anger can consume you to the point that you have explosive episodes. 

You may hurt your loved one with physical and verbal abuse and isolate yourself from friends and family. 

This can lead to low self-esteem and manipulation in our relationships.

3.  Bottled  Repression

Bottled anger turns to depression and anxiety. It can also lead to venting at innocent parties such as your children, spouse or pet.

There is no question anger is only harming you and your family.  Dwelling on past injustices has no effect on the present other than causing you pain.

Being angry will not bring back a lost loved one or mend your broken heart.   If you can’t let it go you might face these undesirable consequences for the rest of your life.

Blame, resentment and anger will keep you locked in misery. Negative thoughts will crowd out any positive ones and you’ll be swallowed up by bitterness, left an empty shell.


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Ok, for a second I’m going to go a little hippy here.

But we often have the notion that our happiness is dependant upon others. For example, do you feel your happiness is dependant upon your husband loving you? Is your entire self-identify be wrapped around him?

Attachment will only bring us suffering because all things we are attached to we can and will eventually lose.

This may be difficult but you can still wish someone happiness, even if they hurt you.

Some of you may be ready to debate that some forms of anger are healthy. 

Is Anger Healthy?

A valid question to ask: 

Is Anger Healthy?  

Pop psychology suggests bashing your fists into pillows may be beneficial but Buddhist teachings consider that even that is feeding your emotion of anger.

Don’t Feed Anger.

The only neutralizer for anger is compassion. Verbal or physical violence only feeds the seeds of anger, it doesn’t get it out of your system it creates a stronger emotion.

Wouldn’t it be a relief to break out of stressful prison anger keeps us bound to?

Do you sometimes feel like you’re on a revolving wheel repeating the same habits, thinking one day you will change? 

The truth is that we all have the ability to experience inner peace.

I read this quote and my apologies but I don’t have the source. I still want to share it because it really stuck with me.

“The recognition that a person can choose emotional well being – even when things don’t turn out the way we want it – is the cornerstone of mental health.”

Forgiving is hard but it can be done.  Identify your feelings, what you were attached to and what you lost.

Peaceful mind, peaceful life. 

Anger will stomp all over you if you let it.  Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want, it can be really tough, but we must choose acceptance. 

In a small ship rolling across a violent storm, anger will make you seasick.  Accept the storm and you will find peace amidst even the strongest waves.


Forgiveness can change your life.  It doesn’t mean you have forgotten the past.  It doesn’t mean you have to keep someone in your life.  It just means that you have decided to move on that you are ready to be happy.

1.  Explore your emotions of hurt and the underlying fear attached to them.  Anger stems from a sense of helplessness.  Commit to change

2.  Seek professional help – You don’t have to do this alone.  There are many professionals who are trained to help you overcome these difficult emotions.

3.  Develop empathy – if someone you love was abused or hurt can you try to put yourself in the violator’s shoes?

4.  Forgiving is not forgetting – remember it and then let it go.  It’s about acceptance of what is.

5. Think about your family. Consider the negative affects anger is having on your loved ones.

6. Rely on facts. – The fact is that being angry cannot change the present situation.

7. Write down three good things that came from a negative situation.  From every situation, you can find some positive outcomes.  Whether it be you made a new friend or learned something new about yourself.

8.  Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance. Let it go

9.  Live in the moment.  Practice mindfulness – be continually present with whatever experience you are having.  Mindfulness will bring you into the present moment and away from the mind’s incessant chatter.  Don’t give yourself an opportunity to dwell and exaggerate.

10.  Take up a meditation practice; visualize anger leaving your body and being replaced with a peaceful white light; imagine the healthy effects this will have on your health and relationships.

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Please read this excerpt fully, it is one of the most empowering things I have ever read:  This is from the Bill Clinton story about Nelson Mandela:

Mandela made a grand, elegant, dignified exit from prison and it was very, very powerful for the world to see. But as I watched him walking down that dusty road, I wondered whether he was thinking about the last 27 years, whether he was angry all over again. Later, many years later, I had a chance to ask him. I said, ‘Come on, you were a great man, you invited your jailers to your inauguration, you put your pressures on the government. But tell me the truth. Weren’t you really angry all over again?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all, I’ve not been free in so long. But,’ he said, ‘when I felt that anger well up inside of me I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate then they would still have me.’ And he smiled and said, ‘I wanted to be free so I let it go.’ It was an astonishing moment in my life. It changed me.

If Nelson Mandela can let go of years of unjust imprisonment, we can all work towards living a more peaceful life.

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  1. Thank you for Letting go of anger. My brother and I are estranged and it breaks my heart everyday. I get so mad about the situation.I feel anger and resentment towards him everyday. The situation is his choosing so I can’t change it. I realize that now I need to accept and let go. It’s not going to be easy but I’ll certainly try.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Tina Williamson says:

      Hi Cherri, I do understand how you feel, I have a sister who I used to be close with but now barely talk to and when we do it’s quite superficial. One thing I have learned is that you can’t control other people or their choices or behaviour, you can only control your own.

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