5 Steps to Forgive and Forget

It's not easy to forgive and forget. But you will feel happy not to carry around the wounds nor the scars from people who hurt you.
5 Steps to Forgive and Forget
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Written by Okairy Zuñiga

Last update: 21 March, 2023

To forgive and forget is not a simple and straightforward process. To be able to go on with our lives and fully enjoy it, we should learn to forgive the people who have hurt us in the past and move on.

Forgiving isn’t easy to do. When you start to put behind what hurt you, then you begin to heal. It’ll be a relief not to have to carry around the wounds or the scars from things that hurt you. After all, it’s already enough that you had to tolerate the hurt the first time around.

Why continue harboring it and giving it the importance that it doesn’t have? Isn’t it enough that you have lived it and put up with it at the time it happened?

Why continue to bring back the pain and hurt that it caused you?

Initiate your healing once and for all. This does require bravery, love, and understanding. Here are five steps to forgive, forget, and go on with your life.

1. Forgive and forget for a better life

You should understand that the person who hurt you is actually affecting you.

Recognize that if you decide to forgive that person it is because you deserve it. It doesn’t have to do with the person who hurt you, but the fact that you are treating yourself right by doing this.


Building up this hurt will only cause you to be in a bad mood, bitter, and resentful. You should strive, in some way, to deal with your feelings so that your forgiveness will be genuine. 

Above all, stay calm to avoid anger and manage your stress.  Try to think of something peaceful.

You can think about a person who you are close to and love or substitute negative images for positive ones.

Don’t deny the situation nor avoid it.  Deal with it and give it the importance that it is worth, without the emotional baggage that you have carried in the past.

2. Decide if you really want to go on without forgiving

This step is very important. You should think it over very carefully and visualize leaving behind the issue and commit yourself to this. 

Remember that pardoning is not forgetting because there are issues about this that you just will not forget.

Promise yourself that these issues are not going to interfere with your life, and they will let you live your life in the present without rancor.

Forgiveness is not for the one who hurt you. It’s indispensable and is a means to improve your life.

You are the owner of your acts, and you alone are responsible for your decisions. You should not allow the person who hurt you to have power over you.

Choosing the less painful way and overcoming obstacles does not mean that you should go back to that person and continue a relationship or justify what that person did.

Forgiving implies removing the power of the person to continue hurting you as well as leaving the whole issue behind.

3. Expressing how you feel

According to a study made at Murcia’s University (in spanish), it’s indispensable to let go of your sentiments and free up how you feel about the person who hurt you. This doesn’t mean that you should have a confrontation, which will even cause a worse problem. Remember that everything you do is for yourself.

Before speaking with that person, first, you should clarify your ideas and think about what you will say.

Try not to hold anything back in any way until you feel relief. Explain why you feel so bad or write down what has happened to you: the anger, the bitterness, and the sadness.

It doesn’t matter if you go overboard. It’s important that you express all of your pain. You don’t necessarily need to send the letter to the person who hurt you.

This letter you write is for you, in order to do away with your pain, so you can burn it or throw it away.

Do not belittle yourself. It is important that you are aware of the fact that you deserve to be treated with respect. Recognize and express all the negative aspects you feel toward that person.

Like this article? You may also like reading: Overcome Your Pride and Ask for Forgiveness

4. Accept your faults

There are very painful emotions hidden inside of you, preventing you from forgiving in a timely way. These emotions are sadness, humiliation, rejection, and deception.

It is important that you accept this and try to put yourself in the other person’s place.


Sometimes we judge in excess and don’t think about what we would have done in the same situation. Maybe it would be something that you would not want to do, but it would be necessary.

Don’t hold anything back or question anything. Think about other situations when you have felt the same way. Think about whether what has occurred deserves the importance that you are giving it.

You don’t have to share your values, your opinions, or your way of thinking or feeling. This doesn’t mean that you are trying to justify anything.

You should understand that people are better than the mistakes that they sometimes make.

5. Letting go of the situation

Get started. Move ahead and don’t look back. You should understand that forgiving does not happen from one day to the next. It is a process that you need to internalize.

The time it takes to complete this process depends on the person.

Only you know how much time it takes to move on and to forgive and forget all that happened. Don’t hang on to the hurt, but give yourself time to forgive and forget.

You just need to face that person and say, “I forgive you.” Then you will feel that everything is better and you will feel free.

Remember that forgiving is a process that will allow you to go on and move ahead without any deed or person affecting you, your future relationships, or your present life.

Have you tried to forgive and forget?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Casullo, MM. Las razones para perdonar: Concepciones populares o teorías implícitas. Psicodebate. Psicología, Cultura y Sociedad 2006; 7: 9-20.
  • Fariña F, Abilleira A, Martínez-Valladares M. Actitudes hacia la resolución de conflictos y el perdón a uno mismo. Papeles del Psicologo 2015; 36(3): 230-237.
  • Vázquez C, Hervás G, Rahona JJ, Gómez D. Bienestar psicológico y salud: Aportaciones desde la Psicología Positiva. Anuario de Psicología Clínica y de la Salud 2009; 5(1): 15-28.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.