How to forgive someone for hurting you? What is the proper course of action after someone hurts you? What does forgiveness look like? How do you interact with them? Do you even try? This is one topic to which I can really relate. In fact, I had a buddy and she really hurt me. And here I was, trying to figure out how to forgive, forget and move on. So, I decided I’d write about it in case it may help someone else in a similar situation.
In this story, I’m changing a few facts, so the person doesn’t know I’m talking about them.
The story began when I met a cool lady at work. It wasn’t long before our kooky personalities just clicked. We giggled through meetings, chuckled through projects, and were on the pathway to becoming good friends.
Subsequently, I noticed her beginning to withdraw from me. I couldn’t figure out what I had done. I asked her and she gave no response. Later, I did a mental inventory of what I could have done. Nothing came to mind.
When I tell you I was incredibly affected, I was. It was hard for me. My hurt slowly turned into anger. “How could she treat me this way and why?” I thought time and time again. This back-and-forth in my mind went on for months. It was mentally exhausting.
I’m NOT as tough as I portray myself to be 🙂
I try to be “hard”, but I’m not. Sometimes, as a Black woman, I act as though things don’t bother me. I’ve been raised to be a strong Black woman needing nothing from anybody. All that is such a joke. We hurt just like everyone else.
However, the truth of the matter is I am one big, fluffy marshmallow inside. I’m a giver and I love hard. I think it’s my personality. I have lots of “Blue” in my temperament.
I make friends hesitantly…no carefully.
To be clear, I don’t let everyone in that inner sanctum of my life for this very reason. I choose friends very carefully. Are you the same way?
Yet, if I do let you “in” to my life, I open my heart, share my thoughts and trust you. I try to “first Corinthians 13” you and love you with my whole heart.
You know the scripture.
Yup, if you are my friend, I would do almost anything for you. I’d give you my last dime, buy your dinner when my cash is low and put your needs before mine. That’s friendship in my book.
Incidentally, this particular coworker made it into my heart.
I trusted her with some (not all) secrets.
I put myself on the line for her so she could thrive, and I often helped her do her life better…even when it was a huge inconvenience for me. I even took a backseat on projects so she could shine.
My friend turned on me
She stabbed me in the back and twisted the knife. Do you know what I mean? She went for my emotional juggler while pretending nothing had ever changed between us.
Had I not overheard what she said, I would never have believed it. The first betrayal I heard with my own ears! As I walked past her cubical, I heard her say something “yucky” about me.
Next, folks started telling me about how she didn’t have my best interest at heart and gave verifiable examples. Ugh.
It hurt so much that I almost cried. Right there, at that moment, I almost bawled like a second grader facing the “meanys” on an elementary school playground.
“Surely, she didn’t mean that.” I rationalized in my mind.
Nope, I heard what I heard.
Not long after this incident, she blocked me from all her social media. Ouch!
The funny thing is no conversation had happened, she just cut me off. She ghosted me.
Wow. The worst part is I didn’t know why!!!!
But, I was her friend.
I’ve supported so many others through these types of hurts, but hadn’t experienced one myself in a very long time.
I was out of practice. I had to ponder: “Hmmmm how do I forgive, forget and move on when someone has been a jerk to me?”.
Suddenly, I was the one hurt and was faced with a difficult question: “how do I forgive people and emotionally recover from this?”
The way I saw it, I had two options for how to respond to this
You see, the temptation was there to be equally as mean to her as she was to me. I’ll be straight with you, that was my first thought.
In me lives the “queen of shade”, but I must keep the queen of shade banished to the catacombs of my being. I couldn’t go that route…even though it would have felt good.
Nah, being mean wasn’t the way.
Or, I could have simply become bitter and stopped allowing myself to care about people anymore.
Shucks, that’s no good either. The world has enough hard-hearted bitter people. I need not become another one.
This is the only way to recover from hurt.
I had to forgive her.
I know. You’re rolling your eyes about now.
Dang! Forgiveness was the only way.
Read what author Neil T. Anderson say about forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a difficult but important step in the healing process. It can be hard to let go of anger and hurt and let someone back into your life after they have wronged you, but it is an essential part of finding inner peace. Learn how you can forgive someone with this comprehensive guide.
Even though I was so hurt, I needed to move on from the pain.
Yes, the time had come for me to forgive – in spite of not knowing what I did and in spite of her asking for my forgiveness.
By the way, let me tell you what forgiveness looked like in my life. The good. The bad. The ugly.
Here are my steps on how to forgive someone for hurting you:
How to forgive forget and move on step 1:
Forget and Erase
After I decided to forgive, I had to define what that meant.
It meant I was to wipe her slate completely clean in my heart. However, fellowship would not be restored at the emotionally intimate level it once was.
This means I forgave her and tried to forget what happened. Although we would not be close as we were; I would release her from the debt.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Before attempting to forgive someone, I think it is important to take a moment to acknowledge the feelings you have about the situation.
Allow yourself to experience your emotions (or the hurt) without judgment and make sure that you are in the right mindset to forgive. It is natural to feel angry or resentful at first, but try to also focus on any understanding or compassion you may have for what transpired. I’ll talk more about how I navigated this later.
How do I forget????
Like you, I don’t have amnesia. Forgetting is impossible without a traumatic head injury.
What I mean by “forgetting” is to never play the “movie” of what happened in my mind. No longer would I ruminate over what she did to me.
Whenever I saw her, I’d replace angry hurt thoughts with something else in my head. I changed my mental narrative to reflect a forgiven state of mind instead of a wounded state of mind.
That inner dialogue we choose is huge. I’ll talk more about that later as I continue to explore how to forgive someone for hurting you.
I love this project; I’m not leaving.
This person who hurt me is linked to very important work I do. Avoiding her wasn’t an option for me. I had to see her often. I mean often. There was no way around it
This being so, means I have to get my thoughts about her in alignment with God’s Word so I wouldn’t become hostile and allow Satan to use me as a pawn of pain.
How to forgive someone for hurting you
Realize it takes time
Envision someone about your same age punching you in the face as hard as they can. It would sting, it may swell, and it might even leave an ugly bruise, right?
Over time, you will have to recover physically from the blow.
I think the same happens when someone hurts our hearts.
You’ll have to recover emotionally from a “blow” as well. Your spiritual bruise takes time to heal. Be gentle with yourself as it does.
It took me some time to recover from what she had said and done to me.
It took a lot of time to get my heart in order and get my feelings in check.
In my sporadic anger, I used to imagine those big anvils from classic Bugs Bunny cartoons falling on her head with the cartoon sound effects and all. I had to get over that. I had to change my thoughts as I healed.
Yeah, I was hurting. I was enduring the sting of it. The emotional bruise showed up in memories of what happened. Every time I’d remember what she did, I would get mad all over again. It was like a merry-go-round – back and forth.
Ultimately, only time and prayer could heal the sore spot or bruise on my heart.
While I waited, I would return her “hellos”, smile back when she smiled at me, and try to manage my emotions. If she needed help, I’d help her.
Forgiveness Step #3:
Change the way you think about and process the person.
Was I being fake helping her with a smile even though I felt like pulling her chair out from under her as she sat down?
No, I think it’s being cordial and kind. Only a baby puts their every emotion should be on display.
Grownups understand their inner feelings cannot dictate their lives or interactions. We must exude self-control.
The Inside Us affects outside Us
In the meantime, I had to change the inner narrative or my thoughts about her.
Holding onto anger and resentment only keeps you stuck in the past. It is important to accept that the situation is over and no amount of insisting, blaming or wishing will change it.
Try to come to terms with what happened and make peace with it. It is hard, I know.
Release the Anger & Resentment
Focus on taking responsibility for your part in the situation, work through your emotions, and practice acceptance rather than holding onto expectations or grudges. The truth is, I could have done something – I must have done something – that cause her pain. Even if it was just being myself – wearing the clothes I wore and the car I drove. I did something.
This is especially true whenever I saw her or interacted with her. I couldn’t think “what a jerk” and expect myself to forgive her. If I thought that way, I would not be able to forgive her. I had to change my thoughts toward her.
Thinking ugly thoughts can impact interactions. I had to amend my thoughts.
Even if in faith. In faith, I would think about how much I love her or I’d pray for God to bless her … right there in the moment. This is so important as you figure out how to forgive someone for hurting you.
I may not have felt that I loved her, but I thought about it. I did it (in faith) until the emotions followed. Does that make sense?
Prayer…yes, I prayed for her and for me.
Bitterness is easier to prevent than it is to heal.
The Lord had to help me pray for her. After all, it’s not like I wanted to.
The only sort of prayers I wanted to pray were those angry prayers from Psalms where David would pray “kill em all, Lord!”
Praying for a person is an exercise in humility, but also a revealer.
In my prayer time, I saw how hurt I really was.
Once I faced that reality, I could confess the hurt before it became bitterness.
When I said, “Father, she hurt me so badly.” He comforted me in the Psalms (not the angry ones).
He also showed me how I’ve hurt others in my own actions during my life span. He showed me how I’ve been a jerk so many times before.
It is important to remember that we can never truly understand someone else’s perspective or experiences. I had no idea why she acted that way. But, I tried.
While it may be hard to imagine, try to place yourself in the shoes of the other person and ask yourself questions like “How would I like to be treated if I made a mistake?” By doing this, you are more likely to practice more compassion and understanding toward the other person.
The trust is we make mistakes often and the Lord forgives us, right?
Realizing that I began to see her as more
human and have some compassion for her.
Who knows? She may have hurt me out of her own pain.
Could it be she was jealous of me and that’s why she turned on me? Maybe something in her felt insecure about something in me?
I knew from our friendship, many of the things she wanted from life, I already have. I never tried to flout them, but it was evident I made some choices that gave me a bit of a “leg up”. I had the house and husband she said she always wanted.
Maybe jealousy somehow provoked her. Maybe something she perceived I did to her provoked her. Some of your “haters” are really just jealous of you.
Along those same lines, maybe I did do something that hurt her and I deserved her response.
She had indicators of low-self image
Observing her life, I see she has the classic symptoms of low self-image. The Lord showed me that time and time again once I began praying for her.
One such symptom was her need to brag and boast. If someone around us shared their experience, instead of listening, she quickly interject her own experiences. All roads often led to her and what she thought about everything.
For example, if someone said, “we had chicken for dinner”. She’d say something like “Girl, I make the best chicken….”
She often gossiped and I frequently got roped into it.
I would try to walk away when that happened, but sometimes, I didn’t because I didn’t realize what was happening.
Likewise, her words didn’t always match her actions and I observed two-faced sort of behavior. I should have known I’d soon be on the receiving end of all that. I should have known that anyone who hurts others would eventually hurt me.
To be clear, she was not a horrible person. Just a normal human being doing like like us all.
Insecurity can make you act really stupid. Trust me, I know. I’ve been insecure as a young woman and I was a bootie-head to other people before. Wild, right?
Finally, how to forgive someone for hurting you…
All this to say, I had to view the woman who hurt me as just a human being figuring out life the best way she can with what she had – exactly as I am.
It’s easy to forgive someone when we realize that.
Recognize that forgiving someone takes time, and resolve to make it a priority. Start by saying out loud “I choose to forgive ____” followed by what the person did.
This can be empowering and can signal a turning point in your journey of forgiveness. Whether your feelings are mixed or you’re not yet ready to offer complete forgiveness, make an unconditional commitment to forgive even if this feels difficult because soon enough you’ll experience profound healing in the process.
Thank God I have no more anger. I have forgiven her. It took time, effort, prayer, and changing how I thought about her in my mind. Finally, it happened.