How to Forgive Someone Who Hasn't Forgiven You

Forgiving someone who hasn't forgiven you can mess with your idea of what's right or fair. However, by wanting the other person to forgive you first, you're overlooking the point of forgiveness as a genuine form of getting over what has happened. Getting to the point of forgiveness may be a challenge but it's one you can reach if you're willing.


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    Stop viewing this as a blame game. If you're waiting for the other person to offer forgiveness first, then you will likely be waiting a long time. Ironically, it's probable that you're maintaining the reason for a lack of forgiveness, in that it's competitive or about proving you're right after all. You'll need to step back and remove the blame aspect of it.
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    Realize that you cannot make anyone feel something you want them to feel. If they are not ready to express forgiveness and you're already at that point, you'll need to accept that you're simply more advanced in being ready to forgive. Forgiveness is not something you can force, it's a choice that a person needs to reach personally. No other person can force this out.
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    Be genuine when you express forgiveness. If you aren't genuinely sorry, it'll be obvious and you won't be able to get past the fact that the other person hasn't yet forgiven you.
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    Think about what matters. Does being right or being forgiven matter more than you being the bigger person and letting go of your own resentment, anger or irritation about whatever happened? Have a good think through of what is really stopping you from performing an act of forgiveness.
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    If you have a history with this person, remember all the good things and the good times. These are memories that show you that you shared special times together at one time. Perhaps now these can help you to feel ready to forgive and move on.
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    Make the choice to forgive. Forgiveness isn't tit for tat or reciprocal round robin. You must make the choice that you are ready to forgive and not take into account whether or not the other person is ready, capable or intending to forgive. This is about your release from festering or living in the past, not their willingness.
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    Focus on your values. If forgiveness is one of your values, rely on this as your motivation for moving on rather than on worrying about the unforgiving person's morals, values and preferences.


  • Make a decision about whether you want to state your forgiveness to the person or you are just going to make this decision and move on.
  • If you plan on talking to the other person to convey your forgiveness, stay calm. Don't yell or bring up past issues. Be prepared to do most of the talking.
  • Try to see the issue from the other person's perspective. Perhaps what you did, said or showed them was beyond the pale and they may need a really long time to reach forgiveness. Or, they may never get there. But this isn't something you can allow to direct your choice to forgive.


  • Some people will hold grudges for all times because it serves a purpose of putting them in the "wronged" or "outraged" position, causing them to feel they are somehow superior. Such a delusion is their problem, not yours and if they wish to harm their own life by carrying a long-term grudge, there is nothing you can do besides showing your willingness to forgive and move to a new stage.

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Categories: Relationship Issues