The first step when truly forgiving someone is the same step when making a major life-change. True forgiveness begins when you accept that you're DONE with the way things are right now. If you're interested in freedom, forgiveness is an essential component you must be willing to practice.
To truly forgive, you must be willing to take full responsibility for your peace of mind. This means we have to set everyone free from the duty of making us happy. If our emotional state is dependent on other people's behavior then we'll never know peace. I call this "releasing the hostages". A hostage is anyone that you expect to act in a certain way so you can be happy. Consider how you feel when your boss comes down on you, your partner doesn't notice your new haircut, your kids have a tantrum, or a stranger is snippy with you at Trader Joes. If you took 100% responsibility for your peace of mind then you'd be able to bless them and move on. Doesn't that sound freeing?
The same principle applies to the resentments we carry. If you get upset every time you think of something from the past you're keeping yourself imprisoned. There were a few experiences from my life that haunted me. They mostly revolved around feeling rejected. I would get so angry and frustrated at people (and institutions) that I felt treated me unfairly. Sometimes I would have stress dreams where I relived the experience over and over again. I always felt justified in my anger because I was the victim. But being a victim is exhausting and holding onto the resentment became too much to bear.
When I finally became more interested in feeling good than I did in justifying my anger, my life began to change. I started practicing true forgiveness and took 100% responsibility for my emotional state. Whenever a resentment would creep into my awareness I paused and lovingly asked, "What am I believing here that isn't true? Who am I holding hostage?"
Each resentment we carry is like a link in a heavy chain that we drag from place to place. When you're finally ready to be DONE with the way things are in your life and begin to cultivate the willingness to try a new approach through forgiveness, then the doors to your prison cell creep open and a new possibility begins.
Jesse Brune-Horan is a Spiritual teacher and happy living expert. He's the co-founder & Spiritual director of Inspire Spiritual Community, a non-profit organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community. He's the host of the podcast "LGBTQ+ and Spiritual", and co-host of the lifestyle series "Super Easy with Jesse and Alison." He lives and Loves in Los Angeles with his husband Christopher and their family.