How to Forgive

“I’ll never forgive them for as long as they live!”

An understandable response to a totally crappy situation…

But how does being so angry about it make you feel?

What if I could show you a completely different way of viewing everything, like looking through a pair of magic, pink binoculars?

What if that new way of seeing things made you feel “nice and fuzzy” on the inside?

What if I stopped asking patronising questions?

Forgiving means letting go of anger or hatred directed at a person. It’s usually the last thing anyone feels like doing, even after their own death. But there is good news.

It is possible to forgive a complete A-hole.

That’s because forgiveness doesn’t excuse behaviour that was wrong or unfair. It doesn’t make it okay to commit genocide or steal cupcakes.

It just gives you the distance, presence, power and mojo to move on.

Letting go and forgiving is all about freeing yourself.

Why I wrote this blog

Learning how to forgive has taken me on a journey to hell and back, even passing through South Croydon! This is a photo of me taken just a few years ago:

I wasn’t quite myself and if I’m honest it even had some effect on my physical appearance. But look at me now!

Still not 100% but doing so much better than before!

The truth is that I’m not a guru or expert on this subject, far from it.

I actually decided to write about forgiveness because I really sucked at letting go and I wanted to figure out what I could do about that.

My own problems began when I started getting into quite extreme disagreements with people. It’s fair to say that politics isn’t my strong point. In fact if I were in a generous mood I might describe my social skills as “appalling”.

A mix of unrealistic expectations, bad luck, anxiety about dealing with other people and my own lack of diplomacy all combined to give quite a few people the impression that I might be one of the devil’s closer relatives.

So how did I get into so much trouble with the humans? Surely, as a plausible candidate for membership of their species, I could have figured out some way to get along? 

For months and months, I searched the unfathomable depths of my wicked soul trying to find an answer to that question. And then one day it hit me like a thunderbolt from heaven! All of sudden the real problem became clear.

I’m a moron.

It was that simple. All I had to do was learn how to develop the emotional intelligence to deal with people and their strange ways. And so it was that I took up the idea of writing this blog and embarked upon an incredible and rewarding journey of horrifying self-discovery.

After months and months of profound soul-searching, analysing, writing, rewriting and editing, I was shocked to discover that my blog had 3 pages.

It turns out that learning how to forgive people involved a serious amount of work! Maybe in the end it was my laziness that saved me from anger. I really can’t be bothered to hate anyone anymore. Not if it means I have to write another crumby page for this website.

But I’ve definitely made progress. I’ve gone from being “absolutely terrible” to “not particularly special” and I consider that to be an enormous achievement. And I already know I will reach mediocre before too long. Way to go me, the sky’s the limit!

Even my social skills have significantly improved and could now accurately be described as merely “questionable” rather than “hopeless beyond all human comprehension and conceivability”.

So if you’re looking for the world champion of personal development you’ve come to wrong place. Mediocrity is the next level I’m aiming for. If I took part in a “mediocrity competition” right now I’d probably come about half-way in the rankings.

It may seem odd but it can be strangely useful to learn from a hypocrite who still gets it wrong sometimes. And that’s why I am quietly confident that I’m not wasting your time here.

Anger can drive you totally crazy, I should know! But as disturbing as it may seem after all my experiences, I often feel as if I might be going completely sane.

How to Forgive

One thing I’ve learnt is that forgiveness becomes easier when you’re willing to learn how to do it, when you’re willing to enrol in the School of Cool.

I’ve written a series of long, tedious articles that I believe will lead you to that place.

My approach is a bit like learning a sport. When someone says “Stop being angry” or “Just let it go” it’s a bit like saying “Stop being bad at soccer”. Not great advice.

A more useful approach is to break everything down into key areas that you can work on improving, such as passing, tackling, goal scoring and fouling.

And of course it takes practice. If you can spend as much time thinking forgiving thoughts as you do thinking angry thoughts then forgiveness will usually start winning over anger.

We all have gaps in our emotional education: 95% of what I write will be painfully obvious to a toddler. But when you learn to “see the obvious” more often and more clearly then you’re closer to the goal.

So get ready for a painstaking journey through your lovely brain!

Okay okay, I wanna know more! Hit me baby!

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Latest related thoughts


Forgiveness is something that means many different things to many different people. It can mean letting go, healing pain, changing focus, finding freedom, understanding humanity or embracing harmony or hope in times of great trouble. However you look at this concept, it's something powerful that can be studied, developed, practiced and deepened for the sake of a more peaceful life and a better world.


Human beings can sometimes behave in a way that is slightly sociopathic. But many of us need to go through at least one brutal experience of inhumanity before we can realise the true value that humanity offers the world.

To be on the receiving end of behaviour that is lacking in empathy can help you to sincerely consider, understand and regret those times in your own life when you also acted as if other human beings did not exist, were not as important as you or did not have real feelings.

The most humane and empathic human beings are those who are able to empathise with other people’s inability to empathise with them by seeing that lack of empathy as something that reminds them of their own ignorance in the past. Understanding and allowing people to behave without empathy for you is a test of true empathy and non-judgment of yourself.

Everything that I have experienced has led me to one very clear, very simple conclusion about life: all that really matters in this world is kindness. This is all I have ultimately learned from the kindness of others, from the unkindness of others and from my own mistakes. It's never too late and can never be wrong to be kind.

Kindness may never be in fashion but it is the true essence of humanity. It can dissolve anger, repair divisions, rise above judgment and make sense of everything that might otherwise seem a little pointless.

My favourite quotations

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong"

Mahatma Gandhi

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"

Jesus Christ

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much"

Oscar Wilde

8 thoughts on “How to Forgive

  1. Just wish to tell you that your blog is very intelligent, insightful and well-written, and I absolutely love it! I have gone through so much professional literature on psychology and neurobiology while making the same journey as you did, and I must say that finding and reading your blog was a sheer pleasure because you somehow manage to bring out the core of it and present it in a manner that makes me think that “I couldn’t have said it better myself”.

  2. I find all your articles to be right on and extremely inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing. I needed some guidance or a reminder and you provided it. You made a difference in my life. Thank you.

  3. Hi there, just wanted to thank you for the posts. I came across some of them and they are really helpful. Thank you a bunch :)

  4. Hi! Your articles are brilliant! Thanks for putting them online, I’m finding them helpful at a difficult time. How did you figure this stuff out?

  5. I would like to express my appreciation for your blog!!! Stumbled upon it doing a search the other day looking to understand why ‘bad things keep happening’ to me…your article was like a light going on in my head…went on to read your other pages about forgiveness and letting go…again, this is exactly what I have been needing to hear. Don’t want to over egg it but for the first time in months I feel I am gaining perspective and feeling hopeful again…can only thank you for the part your writings have played on my journey. You are a wise man who writes from the heart and your words have touched mine. I thank you very much and wish you many blessings…keep up the blog please!

  6. Hey, there’s no need to forgive anyone or even yourself…that is if you’d rather suffer for the rest of your life. One fact to remember…”Forgiveness, not to be confused with condoning, is always for the forgiver…ALWAYS!” Namaste, Donny

More comments from this site

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  2. Brianna says:

    Thank you so much for putting your thoughts, experiences, and advice out here for everyone to see and learn from. Ive ruined a lot of relationships with people by being needy and dependent on them for happiness and it took til now, losing Someone i heavily relied on and loved to leave me to realize that i needed to make a huge change in my life so i can better my future and current relationships with others. Youve been a great help and i appreciate it very much.

  3. Felix says:

    Thank you very much. This article is very helpful.

  4. Lilly says:

    Thank you for posting such a clear message, that we are enough to create our own happiness, in the meaning of self-worth. It is really helpful. I am sure everybody has time to time some doubts about emotional stability and independence, no matter how strong they can seem to be from outside. Thanks again! :-) I have needed it.

  5. ik says:

    I was drowning in self-pity and feelings of rejection and unworthiness because of (what else but) a man. Reading this article, the very realisation that I convinced myself of 'Him or there's no happiness for me ever!', has helped instantly. I am a high achiever, consider myself a person who can see the bigger picture and can put things in perspective, have a beautiful healthy family who love me, and here I am dependent on his 5 minute a week attention! To be clear, he is a lovely man, and this is not intended towards blaming him. But I do find myself resenting him, even stalking him. I am now fine and calm after reading the article, but very VERY embarrassed. The healthy embarrassment though, because I feel armed with help tools-I have copied the article to refer to it when I get overwhelmed by neediness. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for preserving my sanity!

  6. Felicia says:

    I loved this article! This morning I woke anxious again, reading this helps.

  7. Cloud says:

    Wow, this article was fantastic. Really inspiring and helpful.

  8. Amy says:

    Outstanding article! Thank you!

  9. liz says:

    Love this. Excellent advice on how not to obsess.

  10. Malika says:

    Good to get a reminder of that youre not alone with this feelings :) what doesnt kill you makes you stronger!

  11. millie says:

    Thank you so much this is the best content I have come across on the web regarding neediness! It has put me right back on track - THANKS AGAIN :-)

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  13. Anne Thrope says:

    Isn't trying to relentless focus on the positive, distract oneself with niceties and live in our own bubbles leading to some of the worst outcomes for all life on this planet? This blog builds on the assumption that somehow humanity is important and valuable and ignores the fact that the sheer quantity of us, coupled with our shortsightedness is a plague upon this planet, and at some point will bring about our own demise. So what if a few realists come to the conclusion that we are a horrid, self serving, selfish, cruel and greedy species? Surely the more who come to that level of objectivity the better for both our species and other forms of life? Maybe if we could be honest about the flaws of our species we might actually be able to make meaningful improvements. Saying la la la, I have a few good friends and I'm not responsible for anything outside my little self appointed bubble is terrible advise.

  14. Kristina Marie says:

    Some very healthy Mindsets portrayed here, thank you. One unfortunate illusion brought about by our hyperconnectivity is that we have experienced "enough" of one race, one tribe, or one kind of "people" to judge them unequivocally. This is certainly not the case, but a very easy mental trap to fall into! Nice, really good advice

  15. Bob Saget says:

    I needed this. Thank you, John. I've been feeling really jaded by the people closest to me and these "burns" have happened rather frequently within a short period of time. This gives me hope that I can recover.

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  17. Robyn says:

    Thanks so much! This came at a time when I needed it most. You've given me hope that I can overcome this beast! xx

  18. Ian says:

    Excellent resource, provided a process that enabled me to deal with an unpleasant situation. Thanks.

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  20. Victor Ruiz says:

    Thank you to this site on how to forgive... Blessings!

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