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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How to Forgive is now on Google+

7 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!

More comments from this site

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  2. sonny says:

    I love this article. It's the best article I have ever read.

  3. Nancy says:

    One of the best and most helpful articles I have ever read. Good job!

  4. Kenya says:

    This article has completely changed me. This morning I was feeling nearly suicidal. Now I have some real tools to feel better. Thank you.

  5. Tas says:

    Beautifully described everything about the problems with quotes which are like a balm to an aching heart. I have never read such a thorough article written so softly yet penetrating into depths of emotional problems. Thank you so much! I have saved it on my desktop to read over and over again.

  6. Irine says:

    What a great article! I appreciate how you've included different layers of thought from both psychology and personal experience. I myself am a teacher and if I could teach my students how to embrace life, I would definitely use your articles in the process in order to spare them some of the troubles relating to relationship issues. Thank you! :)

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  8. 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.

  9. How to Overcome Anger By Seeing it as Self-Punishment
  10. 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

  11. Ian says:

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

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  13. Victor Ruiz says:

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

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