How to forgive yourself when you hurt someone you love

When you hurt someone you love and you’re seeking forgiveness, be sure to look in the right places.

When I hit send I knew I was going to ruffle some serious feathers but I definitely wasn’t ready for the storm that followed. “F.U. and F.U. again,” she wrote. My cheeks began to burn. I felt as if I’d been slapped across the face. “Let down and thinking so much less of you,” she continued.

Ouch.

When I wrote that email my intentions were pure. I had simply wanted her to show our mutual friend a bit more kindness. But I had also been judgemental and nobody likes to be judged.

Sure, if I could turn back the clock I wouldn’t have said some of the things I said. But then, if I could turn back the clock I wouldn’t have quit high school six months before graduating, or married my first husband, or eaten that third bowl of ice cream last night.

But I’m human. I make mistakes. So I did all that remained within my power. I held myself accountable and apologized.

It took a few weeks but I sent her an authentic apology. “I am sorry. I have judged you. I have no excuses,” I wrote. But it wasn’t enough. She continues to admonish me and has yet to open even the tiniest crack through which I might be able to slither back into her life.

Last night, I turned to Brené Brown for comfort

While devouring a few pages of her best-selling book Rising Strong, I discovered this gem. (She was quoting a former professor of hers.)

“What is the most generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions or what this person said?”

In the face of my friend’s upset and many insult-laden rebuttals, my most generous assumption has been that she is responding from a place of hurt and anger; that her intentions were to protect herself, not hurt me. That she wasn’t a bad person; just a wounded one.

A few pages on, I read this:

“Living BIG is saying: “Yes, I’m going to be generous in my assumptions and intentions while standing solidly in my integrity and being very clear about what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable.”

Standing in my integrity, I realized that even if I have made a mistake – even if my friend is coming from a wounded place, not an evil one – I am not required to lie down like a doormat and allow her to wipe dirt all over me.

Why can we be so quick to forgive others, yet so slow to forgive ourselves?

For some time now, I’ve envisioned coming face-to-face with my friend and assuming the role of doormat if that’s what she needs me to do. Thanks to Brené, though, I’ve let that vision go. Because nobody deserves to be treated that way. Ever. Not even me.

Yes, I need to be willing to hear her out, to listen to how I have hurt her, to acknowledge my responsibility for her pain. But I don’t need to stand there and take a verbal beating. I can be accountable for my actions and still have boundaries.

I can make a mistake and still expect respect.

Seeking forgiveness shouldn’t have to cost us our self-worth

We all make mistakes. Every single one of us. But not everyone has the capacity to forgive. If you, like me, have not been forgiven by somebody you have hurt, move on.

I don’t mean give up on your relationship. You may have closed a door for now, but you should never give up hope that a new one will open. I just mean move on in the only way you are able, and that is by controlling the only thing within your control: yourself.

You are not evil. When you hurt someone you love, you do so for a reason. Granted, your reason may be misguided or morally questionable, but I’m guessing you don’t intentionally set out to cause pain to someone you care about.

You deserve to be forgiven, so forgive yourself, even if the person you hurt hasn’t forgiven you.

When you hurt someone you love, seek self-forgiveness

Below is my slightly edited spin on some words of wisdom I found in a Tiny Buddha® article. When you hurt someone you love and are struggling to forgive yourself, try the following:

  • Accept your flaws. Know that even with your flaws, you are who you are meant to be. Your flaws, like your strengths, are part of your personality. They don’t make you less of who you are; they make you who you are.
  • Keep in mind that you’re not a bad person. A good person who did a bad thing? Perhaps, but that doesn’t make you bad. Sometimes, good people screw up. That’s life.
  • Get support. Talk to a friend, a relative, or perhaps a therapist about the altercation. Seeing yourself through the eyes of people who are less critical of you than you are of yourself may encourage you to be a little more self-forgiving.
  • Roleplay. Imagine a good friend of yours has hurt someone in the same way you hurt somebody. She comes to you for advice. The person she hurt will not forgive her. Do you tell her she deserves to suffer or do you remind her that she’s human and tell her to go easy on yourself? I’m guessing the latter.

Now take that advice and apply it to yourself. With love.

When you hurt someone you love - image 2

By | 2017-11-06T21:26:17+00:00 October 13th, 2017|12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Jennifer October 18, 2017 at 11:17 am - Reply

    We all make mistakes in life sometimes unintentionally but that does not mean we should not be forgiven. Nobody is above mistakes as we are not perfect. I completely agree with your approach and I believe guilt is toxic and it is very important to forgive oneself and grow from the experience. Great post!

    • THE WORDY MOM October 18, 2017 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Thank you, Jennifer!

  2. The Frugal Family (@thefrugalfamily) October 18, 2017 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    What a thought provoking post, thanks for putting it out there! Forgiveness is a huge issue, I used to teach a course called Moving Forward and this was a major part of what was holding people back. Excellent to keep people thinking and reflecting.

    • THE WORDY MOM October 19, 2017 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      It’s so easy to get stuck in shame, isn’t it?

  3. Rachael Musser October 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Seeking forgiveness shouldn’t have to cost us our self-worth. Soooo good!! I have been in this situation before and, being the people pleaser that I am, I will let the other person use me as a doormat for their hurt and anger. It’s taken me a long time to realize that just because I made a mistake, doesn’t give them the right to continue to belittle me. Thank you for sharing! Such wise words!

    • THE WORDY MOM October 19, 2017 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad this resonated with you, Rachael. Thanks for giving it your time.

  4. Rigel Celeste October 18, 2017 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Such a good reminder to take the high road. Too often I get angry when someone doesn’t forgive me when I think they should, and all that does is continue a very destructive cycle. Thanks for this post!

    • THE WORDY MOM October 19, 2017 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      So true, Rigel. Not everyone can forgive. Sometimes we just have to accept that and move on.

  5. beehappy October 18, 2017 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    This is very important. people don’t talk about this topic often. We teach children that the right thing to do is forgive someone when they ask for forgiveness. Many forgivenesses are given insincerely where you just say “ok I forgive you” but don’t mean it. It’s important to realize that you don’t have to forgive someone (though I hope your friend eventually does) and like you said, just because someone doesn’t forgive you doesn’t mean you have to be stuck until they do. But it’s important to learn and move on instead of just lashing out.

    • THE WORDY MOM October 19, 2017 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      A great point you raise here. You’re absolutely right. We’re taught the power of forgiveness, but forgiveness isn’t as simple as saying I forgive you. It has to be felt and if it’s delivered insincerely, resentment will no doubt fester. I can’t force this friend to forgive me. And despite how ‘unreasonable’ I feel she’s being, I don’t want anyone to push her into it. I need it come from her, sincerely. In the meantime, I’m forgiving myself.

  6. amber battishill October 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Such a great reminder and so many great thoughts that I never contemplated before. Guilt is so toxic and can really wreak havoc on your personal happiness and self-worth. Great post!

    • THE WORDY MOM October 23, 2017 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Glad you were able to take something new away from this, Amber. And yes, guilt – or rather shame – really can wreak havoc.

Leave A Comment

Contact Now