Take a moment to recall a tiff with a lover, friend or family member that was as much your own fault as the other party's. If you're a woman, chances are thinking about your actions in that scenario will make you feel guilty and defensive, whereas a man will more likely feel empathy and forgiveness, according to 13 years of forgiveness research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
While forgiveness for men happens through putting themselves in the other's shoes—which would explain why becoming a father often helps a guy forgive his own father's imperfections—it seems women take a more circuitous route, often wading through periods of anger before reaching acceptance.
- Allow yourself to experience anger, but don't hold onto it for months or years on end. When the anger starts to consume you, you've held onto it for too long.
- Express your feelings in a positive way through writing a journal or talking to a professional, close friend or family member who can help you make sense of the situation.
- Try to step into the shoes of those who hurt you in hopes you'll see the situation from their perspective.
- Write a letter about your feelings to the people who hurt you. Using "I feel" or "I felt" are productive ways to start sentences.
- Most importantly, have patience with yourself: "Remember, forgiveness doesn't have to happen in a day."
Like the simple but effective yogic advice to "be kind, starting with yourself," we can always benefit from being reminded of these basic, healthy premises.