Forgiveness is a freeing thing for friendships, but very often friends don't feel like forgiving. They're hurt and want to stay mad rather than move forward. A common mistake about forgiveness is that you have to be ready emotionally to forgive. That can happen sometimes, but when you really don't want to forgive, what then?
Holding on to negative emotions like hurt and anger keep you locked in place, often re-living the bad thing that happened. Rather than moving forward through the hurt, you either avoid it completely (delaying the pain) or stay locked within the negative event that caused your hurt.
The only way to free yourself from these hurt feelings is to forgive. Here's how to do it when you don't want to.
Make the Choice First and Trust That the Feelings of Forgiveness Will Follow
Forgiveness always starts with a choice. It doesn't happen with a feeling.
When you make your mind up to forgive, you allow your emotions to follow the lead. The feelings of forgiveness will eventually come, but not until you've mentally welcomed them first. A good way to prepare your mind to forgive is to tell yourself:
"I make the choice to forgive today, regardless of how I feel right now."
"I know that my emotions feel only anger, but I choose to forgive and will allow the healing to come."
It will take some time after you make the choice, but each moment after you decide to forgive will get easier, until you are eventually past the pain and hurt.
Don't Replay the Negative Event Over and Over in Your Mind
Too often, a betrayal from a friend makes us replay that event in our minds over and over. This behavior will keep you in a negative pattern of hurt. What's worse is that your mind will naturally embellish and make the negativity worse each time you replay it in your head.
So don't do that.
Instead, tell yourself:
"My friend hurt me but I choose to forgive. Eventually I will move past this pain."
Forgive Without Expectation of Continuing the Relationship
Another thing that prevents people from forgiveness is the worry that they aren't ready to continue the friendship yet. Some friends are able to reconcile after a bad event and some aren't. But don't connect forgiveness to reconciliation as each are different emotional processes.
Forgive without thinking about reconciliation for the moment. Tell yourself you'll need to time consider whether to trust your friend again, but in the mean time, you can still forgive. If, at some point in the future, you feel like you want to be friends again, you can explore that. But it doesn't have to be a condition of the forgiveness.
Finally, forgiveness is about you, not the person who did you wrong. When you forgive, it frees you mentally so you can move forward and be happy again, if not with this friend than with other friendships.
Learn more: 10 common myths about forgiveness.