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Things Preventing You From Forgiveness

When You Can't Forgive


If you're having a hard time letting go of anger and hurt from something your friend recently did, you need to get a handle on it so you can move forward. Holding back on forgiveness is unhealthy and can cause tension to build up that may derail a friendship somewhere down the line. Here are some common reasons you may not be able to forgive, and how to deal with them.

Underlying Issues

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Too often friends fail to address the smaller issues that come between them. They mistakenly think that if you just "ignore it," the issue will go away. But that doesn't work. If you ignore something that is bothering you it actually starts to draw a wedge between you and your friend.

  • What to do: Talk to your pal! You don't have to make a big deal out of the discussion, but you do need to bring it up in a casual way so you can start a dialog. Just saying, "Hey, there's something that has been bothering me. Can we talk about it?" is often enough to help clear things up.

Unresolved Anger From a Previous Argument

Sometimes an argument happens where you both are angry but decide (perhaps in the spirit of friendship) to let it go. Moving on is fine if you've both aired your feelings, but if you haven't come to an understanding, it gives more weight to the issue than if you had talked it through.

  • What to do: No one likes to argue, but if there is a lingering issue between you and your friend, you owe it to your friendship to get it worked out. Start by telling your friend, "I think there is still some tension leftover from our last argument. I feel as if nothing really got resolved and now it's sitting here between us. Can we talk about this again?" Then, be sure to listen to what your friend is saying so you two can work through it.

Saying You Forgive When You Really Don't

If you accepted a friend's apology verbally but still hold a grudge in your heart, it will cause problems with your friendship. Accepting an apology means that you acknowledge what happened, who was at fault, and how the issue will be different going forward.

  • What to do: If you really do not forgive your friend you should wait to accept their apology until you both work it through. If you're just holding on to anger because you're hurt, try these steps:
  1. Look at the situation objectively instead of personally.
  2. Acknowledge that you will have to forgive in order to move forward.
  3. Trust that the person who wronged you is really sorry.
  4. Know that your friend (probably) did not try to hurt you intentionally.
  5. Accept the lesson (if there is one).

Repeated Offenses From Your Friend

If your friend has hurt you over and over again, it may be difficult to forgive them yet one more time. You may be tempted to either lash out and say something like, "Why do you keep doing this!" or pretend to forgive when you really don't.

  • What to do: Tell your friend in no uncertain terms that you can't really forgive again until you see a change in their behavior. This isn't meant to be a scolding, but rather honest communication that lets your friend know you are at your limit in putting up with a certain issue. In this case, it's up to your friend to show you they have changed.

Jealousy Toward Your Friend

Are you secretly jealous toward your friend? If you envy your friend, you may look for ways to cut them down without even realizing it. When this same person messes up and hurts your feelings, you may be extra sensitive and therefore unwilling to forgive.

  • What to do: Focus on the issue that caused the argument rather than your impression that your friend has something you want. Embrace the belief that we all have a different set of circumstances. Don't be jealous of another person's life, because yours is every bit as unique.  


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