Don’t get hung up on why
‘You can forgive someone without understanding why they hurt you,’ says psychotherapist Emma Baskerville. ‘Demanding an explanation can be pointless, as they may not know why they behaved that way themselves.' A positive first step is to say ‘I don’t know why you did that, but I can accept that it happened and try to move on’.
Accept their apology
If you’re upset, you may suspect someone of faking an apology, or just saying the words to get things back on track. ‘Try to accept their apology without suspicion,’ says Baskerville. ‘Think of it as the crucial platform for further communication. Once they know you accept their regret’s genuine, you can start to rebuild the relationship.’
Let go of blame
Forgiveness is a contract between two people. One promises not to repeat their behaviour, while the other agrees to leave it in the past. ‘If you’ve been badly hurt, there will always be trigger points that remind you of that pain,’ says Baskerville. ‘You need to work through these, without referring back constantly to their mistake.’
The hardest part of forgiving someone can be exposing yourself to future betrayal. ‘Vulnerability can make us feel weak,’ says Baskerville. ‘But it’s also the key to intimacy, which provides a feeling of safety in relationships.’ We need to open up in order to get close to people, so try not to put up barriers when you’ve been hurt.
Sarah Abell is an author, speaker and relationships coach. Find out more at nakedhedgehogs.co.uk. To buy her LifeLabs Practical Wisdom online course How to Save Your Relationship, please click here. You can try a free 3-day taster trial first too.