How To Overcome Your Unwillingness To Forgive

When we are having difficulty forgiving others, we focus on our blessings and on being grateful for what we have in our lives despite what has been done to us. This can take the sting out of any offense and make it easier for us to let go of our resentments in order to forgive.

When we are having difficulty forgiving others, we remind ourselves that “but for the grace of God go I,” that under other, less fortunate circumstances we might have found ourselves in desperate situations doing unworthy and unloving things to others, out of fear and a belief that they were necessary for our survival.

With humility, we remind ourselves that stressful circumstances can make fools and devils of us all, such that good people do bad things, and, therefore, that it’s best to put our harsh judge’s robe in the closet and don a cloak of graciousness, compassion and mercy instead.

When we try to walk in another man’s shoes, to get a sense of the difficulties he’s endured, how he’s been damaged in his life, and how he’s been programmed from childhood experiences to take and not give, to attack and not love, and to withhold and not share, it provides us with the opportunity to see the offender in a more compassionate light, which then enables us to turn down the intensity of our anger over what has been done to us, to be more empathetic, and to apply the principles of forgiveness.

For example, if we know someone was abused as a child, that can make it easier for us to understand their bad behavior and forgive it. Along the same lines, if we’re aware of the current circumstances in the offender’s life, such as being unemployed, having no savings, about to be evicted, with a wife and two children to care for, that can make it easier for us to understand why they behaved badly, and to forgive them.

It doesn’t mean we’re condoning or excusing their behavior, or suggesting they not take responsibility for their bad actions. It just means that we’re choosing to see them from a more sympathetic viewpoint, and to let go of our critical judgments.

It can help us to forgive others if we perceive offenders as part of God, despite their ungodly behaviors. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “We love men not because we like them or because their ways appeal to us or even because they possess some type of divine spark; we love every man because God loves him.”

If we don’t believe in God, we use other labels and tools to see the humanity in people despite the errors of their ways.

It’s easier to forgive others if we can find some meaning, some wisdom, some benefit born of the assault and the suffering we experienced. If we can do this, if we can find a way to learn and grow from what has happened to us, if we can discover a blessing in disguise, our perspective changes, we feel less angry, less victimized and damaged, and it gives us permission, so to speak, to not resist extending our compassion and forgiveness.

4 thoughts on “How To Overcome Your Unwillingness To Forgive

  1. Joyce Neill

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I have had to let go and let God in a circumstance that would have destroyed me.
    My son was manipulated into a relationship with a woman who has a track record of manipulation and creating drama. We did not bless the union. We felt it was so toxic and dysfunctional, how could we.

    They eloped and 4 years later she has cut him off from all of his family who love and supported him. He was always a wonderfully well balanced young man, made some wrong choices as a teenager, but who doesn’t.

    She is so desperately lacking love from her Mother (who is now dead) she does not know her father. I tried everything I knew to accept, make ammends, humbly myself and love this unlovable broken woman who gave birth to my Triplet Granddaughters. To no avail.

    My family and friends say we have made ourselves doormats to try to see the Grandchildren.
    I’ve given up….given it to God….embraced that it is what it is and it’s beyond me.

    I work daily on love, loving myself, loving others, forgiving and extending Grace to those who through their brokkeness, wound and hurt me.

    I use EFT Tapping and my strong Christian faith to support me. Although I have to do it on a daily basis, sometimes, many times throughout the day.

    I hold on to the promise “God will restore ALL that the locusts have eaten”.

    Every blessing on your work.
    This did not come to me by accident today.

    Infinite Love and Gratitude.

    1. Walter E. Jacobson

      Thank you, Joyce, for your heartfelt and empowering comments. Peace and blessings, Walter

  2. Fariba

    I also have to say this didn’t come to my email by accident, becuse I am dealing with a difficult situation right now and I am looking for an answer to deal with it and free myself from the pain I’m suffering. This thought was in my mind when I opened your email and I felt like Joyce felt, that this can’t be an accident.
    Thank you Dr. Jacobson!

    1. Walter E. Jacobson

      You’re welcome…. thanks for sharing your thoughts. hope you are able to come to a place of acceptance and peace.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Therapy that goes beyond the couch


Walter informs his clients how to neutralize their negative thinking, how to eliminate fear thoughts and catastrophic thinking, how to regulate their emotions and anxieties so they don't make thoughtless, reckless, impulsive decisions, and how to effectively communicate in order to get their needs met.

Clinical Services

  • Individual Therapy
  • Couples Therapy
  • Psychopharmacology Therapy
  • Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy
  • Sessions via Office, Skype, or Phone
Make an Appointment

Latest Tweets

walterdoc @walterdoc
Walter E Jacobson MD  @walterdoc
It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear. - Dick Cavett. #happiness 
Walter E Jacobson MD  @walterdoc
The first duty of love is to listen. - Paul Tillich #happiness 
Walter E Jacobson MD  @walterdoc
RT @gooodthang:Don't Make Assumptions. Take A Step Back and Think via @walterdoc 

Visit my profile on YourTango Experts