Self, Heartbreak

How To Forgive Someone & Let Go Of Anger (Without Letting Them Fool You Again)

Photo: unsplash / Joseph Greve
How To Forgive Someone & Let Go Of Anger (Without Letting Them Fool You Again)

When you're in a position where someone you love has hurt you, whether it's in a toxic relationship or by accident, you may have been told that forgiveness is the only thing you can do in order to let go of anger and move on.

But forgiveness often misinterpreted to suggest that you simply "forget" what they did to you. The idea that you need to simply "forgive and forget" no matter what was done, be it emotional or physical abuse, toxic relationship problems, gaslighting, or manipulation, is harmful to your self-esteem and well being and is downright unhealthy relationship advice.

There is nothing that irks me more than the whole “forgive and forget” gig. Does forgiveness mean you had a lobotomy?

You can learn how to forgive someone and still be smart.

RELATED: How To Know When It's Okay To Forgive Someone And Move On

No matter what, safety is number one, and if you don’t feel safe with someone, forgive them, let it go so it doesn’t eat you up alive, but be smart and stay away.

Sure, it’s hard to not want to trust someone you once loved.

I remember going through my divorce, knowing my ex-husband cheated. Even with knowing this, I tried three times to make it work. I wanted to trust, I wanted what I thought I had. I wanted my family to be whole, not “broken.”

My greatest mistake during separation was looking to my ex to help me through the healing process.

Here's how to forgive someone who has hurt you while protecting yourself against future trauma:

1. Have better judgment and boundaries about who is and isn't trustworthy.

The person that hurt me was not trustworthy.

If you are a person who wants to trust, you might also a person who wants to let go and not hold onto a grudge.

We’ve all seen people who years after a divorce are still angry, bitter, spewing blaming words — but it hurts your heart and soul to be filled with such venom.

Being cheated on, used, or having your trust abused in any way is a force to be reckoned with. It has nothing to do with the person who hurt you; it has everything to do with you. Forgiveness certainly brings about peace and resolution.

People who are chronic long-term victims don’t take personal responsibility for how they feel. They live in a magical world where if you are angry long enough, blame someone long enough, you’ll feel better. Some believe that if they cannot forget what happened, they can’t forgive. Not so.

2. Understand that trust and forgiveness do not go hand in hand.

So, what is the biggest pitfall of forgiveness without trust? It’s holding onto the belief that if one person hurt you, others will.

Be smart. Be safe. Don’t get yourself in a messy situation thinking that forgiveness means you have to trust. It does not. Find people worthy of your trust.

RELATED: Why Forgiveness Is Important For Your Own Self-Care (And 4 Steps To Help You Forgive Someone)

3. Don't build a wall around you to protect yourself from getting hurt.

We all have our triggers. When I went through my divorce, it brought me right back to an old teenage belief: “All men cheat.”

My facts to back this up were that both my mother’s husbands cheated, too. Twenty years later, as an attorney, my black and white thinking was triggered. Like all men, he cheated, so I thought I should withhold forgiveness and punish him.

Then I put up walls to protect myself from other hurts. It made me inaccessible to the one thing I wanted most: To be loved. Building walls around you might keep you safe from being hurt, but it also prevents you from loving again.

4. Know that vulnerability comes from strength and courage.

The person hurt most by the "walls" will be you.

In order to keep yourself from being cut off, you have to be the person who knows you can be hurt and survive, while still understanding that with vulnerability come strength and courage.

Know you can be hurt and bounce back, but learn to notice red flags and wisely stay away. In other words, build boundaries that respect your privacy and keep you safe while still letting those you deem trustworthy into your inner circle.

Do your best to not blame all men or women for what your ex did to you. One person's behavior is not indicative of the entire gender.

When you are ready to forgive, you will know. Forgive your ex. Find peace. Stay safe. And remember that it’s okay to deny trust to someone who is not worthy of it.

RELATED: How To Forgive Someone (Even When They Don't Really Deserve It)

Lori S. Rubenstein, JD, PCC, is a divorce mediator, coach, and author who helps clients with relationships, divorce, and forgiveness challenges. If your relationship is in need of help, you can contact Lori at her website to set up a free 15-minute consultation to learn how she can help you recover from your relationship stress today.

This article was originally published at Lori Rubenstein. Reprinted with permission from the author.