How to forgive (even if you can't forget)

Forgiving yourself, or others, is one of the hardest things to do. Here are tips from an expert to motivate you to forgive (if not forget!)
By Rebecca Eckler
How to forgive (even if you can't forget) Masterfile

I recently ran into an old acquaintance of mine and we hugged and kissed each other on the cheeks. We had a nice ten-minute chat. As I walked away, I felt irked. Something was bothering me, but I couldn’t figure out what.

Then it hit me! I had been pissed off at this woman for over a year!

It all came rushing back to me – the gossip she spread about me, the inappropriate and untruthful things she said about me to my then-boyfriend. I was bothered all night. On the one hand, obviously I had forgotten what she had done or else I wouldn’t have hugged, kissed and chatted with her for so long. On the other hand, I suddenly remembered that I didn’t like her, and I hadn’t forgiven her.

Forgiveness is something I have been working on. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I hope people would forgive me for them. Likewise, I would like to forgive people when they hurt me, but I have a hard time with this. I even have trouble forgiving myself! (Oh, how I wish I could go to a Father and admit my sins and be done with it. Big sigh for being Jewish.)

Then I heard about Stephen Cito, a motivational and inspirational leader and founder of Mind Vision Inspired. He is also a renowned hairstylist and colorist and the author of A Healthy Diet For Your Mind and Soul. He specializes in forgiveness and moving on -- and, hey, aren’t we all angry at and want to forgive someone in our lives? Here are his top tips for moving on and forgiving.

1. Let it go and forgive: “The first step in moving on is wanting to forgive and let go of any wrongdoing that has been done onto you. When you let it go and you forgive the one who has done you wrong, you're doing it for yourself, not the one who has hurt you. Letting go and forgiving cleanses you of the pain and wrong doing that was given you,” he said. If you don't let it go and forgive, it will always be a part of you. It will limit you from a fulfilling and peaceful life. You must detach and separate yourself from it, or you will inherit it.

2. Don't blame yourself or feel guilty: “Someone else's wrongdoing is not your responsibility. They may try to blame you for it or make you the cause, but don't fall for it,” he said. This is a weakness on their part; they don't what to take responsibility so they point the finger and blame you. “When someone points the finger at you, three fingers are pointing at them,” he added.

3. Have courage to find truth and reason: “Take the responsibility and build the courage -- even as difficult as it may be -- to know the whole truth of any wrongdoing done onto you. By doing so, you will ease the burden of your pain. You will also discover that the wrongdoing done onto you had nothing to do with you.” As the saying goes: Knowing the truth will set you free.

4. Forgive yourself: I find this the trickiest one. According to Cito, “Finding the courage to forgive ourselves is very hard to do. We take so much responsibility for the wrongdoing of others and then blame ourselves for it. We become our worst enemy and critic. We all make mistakes from time to time and we're not perfect. I have yet to find someone who is perfect and hasn't made a mistake.” Give yourself a break and forgive yourself for any mistakes you have made. Find the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, so you don't repeat them.

5. Fill your heart with love, not hate: Love will prevail, hate will destroy, Cito advised. “Don't hate the ones who have done you wrong. Hate is poison to the heart! Love will endure and conquer all and it will always stand the test of time,” he said. The best weapon you can use on anyone who has done you wrong is love. Courage and love combined is the greatest power of all. “It can take down the worst enemy to its knees,” he said.

Cito comes to one key conclusion: The most important person you have to get along with is yourself. As difficult as it may be to forgive others (or ourselves, for our mistakes), not having the power to do so is not optional. In my own life, I have now forgiven that acquaintance -- well, 97 percent forgiven. Baby steps!


Follow me @rebeccaeckler and


Subscribe to our newsletters for our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.