How Can We Practice Forgiveness?

Forgiveness can have profoundly positive results for mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Furthermore, it can reduce feelings of anger, stress, and resentment that arise as a result. But how can we practice forgiveness?

Forgiveness requires acknowledging an injustice and practicing empathy towards the person who wronged you – something which requires seeing them as just another human with strengths and weaknesses like you. Sometimes talking it through with an impartial loved one or mental health professional may help ease any painful memories associated with an incident.


Forgiveness goes beyond simply letting go of anger; it involves cultivating deep empathy and understanding toward those who have hurt or offended you. One effective way of practicing compassion is putting yourself in another person’s shoes and trying to understand why they act this way; doing this allows us to forgive more easily, and reduce anger and resentment while improving relationships overall.

Studies have consistently demonstrated that people who forgive tend to experience greater physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Resentment only serves to undermine your presence while potentially harming your body through stress. Furthermore, forgiveness strengthens relationships among individuals as well as helps ward off illness.

Studies of compassion using self/observer-rated measures have provided insights into its components. Common characteristics identified include recognition of suffering; understanding that suffering is universal; feeling empathy or sympathy towards those experiencing it; tolerating distress caused by witnessing suffering; and taking proactive steps to alleviate suffering. Research has discovered that compassion correlates with forgiveness and positive social support. Furthermore, compassion may even have biological roots – being linked with decreased depression levels as well as enhanced physical well-being that protects against mortality.

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Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and understand their perspective. For instance, if your friend is annoyed that your toys have been left out on the floor, empathizing with her by considering what would cause her distress is key here. Empathy also extends physically; when stubbed your toe, cringes with pain just as if it were your friend’s.

Empathy is key in forgiving others since when we can understand the negative repercussions of an offense on its perpetrator, we’re more likely to accept their apology and forgive. Research suggests that empathy works better when applied to familiar or familiar situations as this allows an emotional connection (an essential ingredient of forgiveness).

Research reveals that people are still capable of forgiving even in unfamiliar situations, possibly because it was not their fault that caused harm; rather it could have been their circumstances or an inability to connect with others that led them down this path resulting in hurtful actions from them. This helps explain why some may find it challenging to develop compassionate empathy resulting in their failure to forgive.


Self-awareness is key in forgiving others because it allows you to better comprehend your thoughts and emotions, helping you become less reactive and more mindful in response to situations or yourself. Self-awareness also allows us to look at events from an objective viewpoint, helping us identify when we may be treating ourselves unfairly.

If you’re feeling anxious about starting a new school year and someone cuts you off in traffic, remind yourself that it was just an innocent mistake and not intended to hurt you directly. Doing this will allow you to avoid falling into negative reactions while simultaneously practicing mindfulness and forgiving immediately.

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Another example would be when you notice yourself overeating or criticizing yourself too often, taking an objective look at your habits and realizing it’s time for a change. Writing in a journal or talking to friends may provide the courage and motivation needed to make this hard yet rewarding transition.

Forgiveness takes practice and may come easier to some people than others, but all can learn how to be more forgiving, which can benefit their mental health, physical well-being, productivity, and overall happiness. Furthermore, practicing forgiveness may even benefit relationships by leading to better communication and understanding between one person and the next while forging strong emotional bonds between us all.


After any transgression, it can be natural to experience difficult feelings. To fully forgive someone, however, we must face these painful emotions head-on and address them head-on – whether through mindfulness meditation, speaking to someone close to us, or writing them down in a journal. By acknowledging and sitting with these hard emotions head-on we can begin the journey toward forgiveness more fully and explore possible causes rather than solely assign blame on any one individual or cause.

Forgiveness practice is also about relinquishing our need to seek revenge or protect ourselves from harm, and accepting what has happened without bitterness or animus. It’s a process of moving beyond hurt and regaining control over our lives; though not an easy or straightforward journey; indeed there can be many different interpretations of forgiveness; some believe that it means pardoning or overlooking past misdeeds while others see reconciliation or positive decisions as its goal.

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No matter your opinion, forgiveness is a powerful practice. Not only can it bring health and relationship benefits; but research shows it also lowers stress levels, blood pressure, and sleep quality – so why not give it a try? You might find it’s easier than you think. GoodTherapy writer Crystal Raypole loves languages and travel; her true passion lies with mental health awareness and decreasing stigma around mental illnesses.