Being hurt by someone else, for any reason and whether accidental or not, can be a traumatic experience. You may experience feelings such as loss of trust, depression, anxiety, or anger. You might also understand, though, that forgiveness is the right thing to do, either for moral reasons or because you simply want to move on with your life. As the holidays approach and there are more family and friend gatherings, it can be difficult to know how to get rid of bad feelings without letting yourself be hurt again. Here’s how to forgive while still maintaining healthy boundaries after someone has hurt you.
Don’t Forgive Until You Are Ready
It’s important to remember that you are not obligated to forgive someone who hurt you in any way, especially if they have done nothing to better themselves in the interim. Don’t let others tell you that you should forgive and move on before you are ready. You need to get to that place naturally so you won’t experience lingering hurt and resentment once you move on with your life.
Remember: Forgiveness is not for them—it’s for you. If the person who hurt you is the one pressuring you to ‘forgive’ them, make sure that what they are asking is not just for a chance to hurt you again. You are allowed to take your time. You can tell them, “You have hurt me, and I will forgive you, but I need some time and space to do so.” If they are truly sorry, they will accept this and give you the time you need.
Understand You Are Not Obligated to Keep Anyone in Your Life
Even though you have decided to forgive someone for hurting you, it’s important to remember that you are not obligated to keep them in your life. It doesn’t matter if they are family members or close friends. You have every right to remove yourself from a toxic relationship where you have been hurt. You can choose to forgive the person who hurt you while still not wanting to be around them and that is valid. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
Seek Professional Help
If you are dealing with significant mental or physical fallout from being hurt, consulting a professional might be a wise idea. A counselor or psychologist can help you work through any mental health issues you may be experiencing, while a doctor you trust can help manage and treat physical injuries.
If you were injured in an accident at a private home, place of business, or place of employment, you can consult a personal injury attorney to explore your options for compensation. You might choose to forgive a company if they make a dedicated effort to compensate you for wrongs done on their end. Remember that if you are physically injured, you have the right to receive medical compensation from the person who hurt you, regardless of your religious, spiritual, or family beliefs about forgiveness.
Make Your Boundaries Clear
The final and perhaps most important step is to establish your boundaries; make them clear to the other person and stick to them. This can require some soul-searching to determine where your boundaries should lie. Sometimes the best solution to dealing with someone who has hurt you is to simply talk to them. They might not understand how much they hurt you and they may be feeling hurt and confused as well. Communicate your boundaries to them and hopefully, they will respect them going forward. This could involve things such as them not being allowed in your home, or you not being willing to talk to them alone.
Forgiveness is an amazing thing to give, but only once you are ready to give it. You may choose to never give it, and that’s okay as well. If you go through the process the right way, you can genuinely forgive someone for hurting you and move on without regrets. Maintaining boundaries is not counter to real forgiveness; in fact, healthy boundaries are what make true forgiveness possible.