I Always Forgive First. Here’s Why You Should, Too.

This may come as a shock to you, but I wholeheartedly embrace the idea of forgiving someone first.

I wasn’t always this way.

Suddenly, I’m back on the couch in one of my previous New York City apartments, glass of wine in hand. I can see myself so vividly, it’s almost as if five years hasn’t gone by. I’m watching like a fly on the wall as, between sips of Sauvignon Blanc, I smear and disparage my ex boyfriend to my roommate at the time.

“And you’ll never guess what he did next. He packed up and left in the middle of the night and ignored me for three full days. Can you believe he would do that to me?”

Yeah, I wasn’t just pissed. I was raging. Truthfully, it took me nearly two years to let go of all the hate and hurt that built up over the course of our relationship.

That’s 700+ days spent carrying around those toxic vibes and that negative energy. Talk about a waste of precious time!

Resentment and judgment of any kind does two catastrophic things to your psyche:

  1. It lowers your energy field, causing you to act out of line with your true nature and your integrity, pouring salt on the wound by multiplying the mess.

  2. It closes your heart, trapping all energy—whether positive and high frequency or negative and low frequency—inside of you. Since energy is meant to move through you, it creates heaviness and lethargy. Ever felt exhausted yet you hadn’t done much physical exertion? Perhaps you’re carrying around an emotional burden that you need to release and let bubble up out of your energy centers.

Regardless of whether the rift is minor or major, professional or personal—there’s really only one way out. And that’s forgiveness.

But what is forgiveness exactly? You’re likely at least vaguely familiar with the concept. Growing up, we’re all taught to ask for forgiveness when we’ve wronged or hurt someone. When I talk about forgiveness, though, I’m talking about a deeper, more fundamental shift in consciousness and energy. When I talk about forgiveness, I’m talking about learning to see another flawed human in the same light and love as you hopefully see yourself when you’ve made a mistake. I’m talking about learning to remember without resentment.

Ultimately, forgiveness isn’t meant to be conditional or based upon an apology that’s been handed over to you. It’s a way to release the heavy emotional and energetic burden cast upon you—often unintentionally—by another individual or group. It’s an act of unconditional self-love.

Honestly, you’re worth it. You don’t need to carry around all of that poison inside of you, thinking about all the ways you can get back at someone or enact revenge. Is that really who you are? Are you really the kind of person who simply acts out of reaction to what someone else did to you? Or do you hold yourself to higher standards, to higher values?

Thought so.

So it’s worth being quick to forgive. Because if it gets you back to a place of peace and healing, positivity and love, then it’s absolutely worth it. Below, I share five key things I’ve learned about forgiveness. I hope they help you find your way more quickly back to yourself when you’re feeling heavy, burdened and lost.

1. Forgiveness gives energy somewhere to move.

All interactions are simply exchanges of energy. When conflict arises between you and another person, there is an exchange of lower-frequency energy that drags both parties down below their normal energy fields. That’s why you feel so down and out—because your inner forces have been lowered from where you remain centered, causing you to feel off balance.

Forgiveness and letting go is a way to power yourself back up by releasing the negative energy that you’re expending so many valuable mental resources to contain. It’s like having a huge RV you’ve allowed to hook up to your home’s electrical grid for too long. It’s time to pull the plug. It’s time to get rid of that energy parasite that’s been draining you.

But how exactly do you do it? By simply deciding you don’t want to expend the effort to enclose it anymore. Make the active decision to release the negative energy when it arises instead of forcing it back down within you.

Another technique I find extremely helpful is this cord-cutting visualization. Follow these simple steps:

  • While seated upright with your hands on your knees and your feet on the floor, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a bright white room with only two chairs seated across from one another within it.

  • When you’re focused and can see that setup clearly in your mind, call forth the person or persons who you feel wronged you—and to whom you feel connected via this negative energy between you.

  • Picture the person or persons seated across from you, connected via a cord from your heart to theirs.

  • Try this boxed breathing method:

    • Inhale deeply for five seconds

    • Hold the deep breath for five seconds

    • Release the deep breath for five seconds

  • When you’re feeling calm and at peace with being present with the subject(s) at hand, do the boxed breathing method again—but this time, when you’re holding your breath, allow the tension and negative energy to arise within you. Don’t be surprised if you start to cry or tremble. You’re allowing deep emotions to surface.

  • Upon the deep exhale, physically cut the cord between you and the subject, and breathe out the negative energy.

  • Continue with these steps until you’ve allowed the lower frequencies to surface and shift outward.

  • Now that the emotional ties that bound the two of you have been cut, look him or her in the eyes and say, “I forgive you. You hurt me and it’s okay. I’m sorry for my part in this.”

You should feel much more at peace after going through this exercise several times with the appropriate folks in mind.

2. Forgiveness is for you, not for them.

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. This truly has nothing to do with anyone but you. This is you asserting and reclaiming your power by loving yourself more than you cling to the memory or the pain of what happened. This is about you opening yourself back up to what the Universe has in store for you so you can receive those blessings and aren’t closed off when they come your way. This is about you learning to let go of the things that have burned you, so you don’t continue to burn yourself.

In fact, one of the most difficult forms of forgiveness is learning to truly forgive yourself when you feel you’ve let someone down or were operating on a lower energetic level than you typically exist. But you can do it if you remain focused on keeping an open heart and not letting anything or anyone—not even you—block this way of living.

If you still feel heavy after you think you’ve forgiven everyone in your life, you may need to do some soul-searching. Recognize that deeper forgiveness beyond the absentminded “yeah, I forgive you” will require several rounds of releasing negative energy and tension that’s built up. The same is true of forgiving yourself as well.

3. Forgiveness is the very embodiment of compassion and empathy, bravery and strength.

Forgiveness is not an easy task. Recognizing the humanity and imperfection in another (and also within yourself) is one of the greatest acts of love you can give. Seeing another person with the same kind of grace and acceptance you would want is a powerful way to remind yourself that we’re all mostly just trying to do the best we can. We all come up short and yet we are deserving of being let off the hook for the mistakes we’ve made.

When I’m struggling to forgive someone, I like to remind myself of a psychological principle called the Fundamental Attribution Error or Attribution Effect. The Fundamental Attribution Error is described as:

the concept that, in contrast to interpretations of their own behavior, people tend to (unduly) emphasize the agent’s internal characteristics (character or intention), rather than external factors, in explaining other people’s behavior. This effect has been described as “the tendency to believe that what people do reflects who they are”

In short, we tend to attribute other people’s mistakes to their character and our own mistakes to the situation. But what we do or don’t do isn’t always indicative of our deeper disposition or essence. Remembering this cognitive bias can help to separate the person from what they’ve done, and therefore more quickly forgive the act or series of acts that you feel wronged you.

I use another visualization that’s similar to the cord-cutting one to really help drive this point home. Follow these simple steps:

  • While seated upright with your hands on your knees and your feet on the floor, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a bright white room with only two chairs seated across from one another within it.

  • When you’re focused and can see that setup clearly in your mind, call forth the person or persons who you feel wronged you—and to whom you feel connected via this negative energy between you.

  • Picture the person or persons seated across from you. This time, instead of doing the boxed breathing method and cutting the energetic ties that bind you, simply look him or her in the eyes. Then, imagine yourself sitting exactly where they are seated across from you, looking back at yourself through their eyes. Do the best you can to try to feel what it’s like to be in their position. Empathize with any struggles her or she might be facing.

Ultimately, the goal here is to shift your view of this person from being separate or “other” from you, and toward oneness and sameness. That will help you call forth kindness and calmness—and help you look at this person as you would at yourself if you erred along the way.

4. Forgiveness keeps you in a growth mindset.

As the author of your story, you will need to write and rewrite or reframe your internal narratives to keep you focused on growth. This is true of everything you go through, but especially when conflict arises in your life. Liberating all of those pent up bad vibes will help to clear space and free up energy that you can then allocate to moving past what happened. And that means learning from your mistakes so you don’t make the same ones again.

Try to shift your thinking from “Why did I go through this?”to “What do I stand to learn from this?” Forgiveness can help give you a new beginning. But growing from what you go through will help you write a better ending.

5. Forgiveness is not the same as simply forgetting.

Forgiving and forgetting are two very different things. Forgiving is about confronting the energy blocks within you and opening yourself back up. Forgetting is about avoiding and trying to bury what happened, skirting around the energy disturbances within. Truly, who is able to forget what they’ve been through?

Forgiving, then, is about remembering without resentment. It’s not forgetting what happened, but it’s choosing to look at it through a different lens. That choice is the most powerful part of all of this. Forgiveness is completely up to you!

When you get burned in life, treat the wound head-on with forgiveness. This clears the way for true healing to occur. But, just like in real life, don’t let the same fire burn you twice. Learn from the situation but don’t try to forget it. It’s there to teach you something, after all.

What are some of the things you’ve learned about forgiveness? Are there any people you still struggle to forgive all these years later? Share your story in the comments—or Tweet me at @crackliffe.

“This is about you learning to let go of the things that have burned you, so you don’t continue to burn yourself.”

Originally published at www.crackliffe.com


  • Chris Rackliffe

    Author and Storyteller

    Chris Rackliffe, or @crackliffe, as he is fondly known by friends and colleagues, is an award-winning storyteller, motivator and marketer who has driven over one billion clicks and over six billion interactions as head of social media for some of the biggest magazines in the world, including Entertainment Weekly, Men’s Health, PEOPLE and more. With a B.S. in Advertising and Psychology from the University of Miami—and a Ph.D. in the School of Life—Chris tells first-person stories that cut straight to the heart. Chris has made it his sole purpose to empower and uplift others and help them find peace, perspective and power through what they’ve endured. You can read his work as published or featured in BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, TIME, Women’s Health and many more.