Given the ups and downs faced by almost everyone in life, it can be tempting and indeed quite easy to carry grudges and hurts for years. Sometimes, the anger and ill will persists for decades, causing disruption within families, with friends and others in our lives. To truly move forward in life and gain a sweeping sense of inner peace, learning to forgive others is a critical step in the process of personal development. By following a few important tips, it really is possible to get perspective and let go of long-held irritations and grievances.

First of all, the concept of forgiveness encompasses far more than simply letting someone off the hook for something you believe they have done to you. While that is an element of the task, it is not the sole objective. When you seek to forgive others, you are actually working to foster your own personal growth. Successfully doing so can open up a whole new world of compassion, understanding and humanitarianism that you perhaps never thought possible.

Forgiving someone against whom you have long held negative feelings is never an easy thing to do. It can be nearly impossible to completely abandon the feelings that caused such rifts in the first place. However, you must start by placing yourself in the other person’s shoes at the time and place the allegedly offending event or events occurred.

It may be that your intended target of forgiveness was going through a then-unknown personal crisis that blinded them to the hurt they were causing. We can never really know the internal challenges someone is facing at a given moment, and it may be that the heartache you suffered as the result of someone else was something of which they were wholly unaware. If this is the case, you may have spent a great deal of time and energy being upset at someone who never intended or never realized the harm they did.

By forgiving someone for a perceived or real offence, not only are you being kind to that person, you are also being extremely kind to yourself. Not permitting yourself to let old hurts go does nothing but cause angst, irritation and cynicism to take over your life. This is certain to spill over into areas unrelated to the initial situation. There is nothing worse than allowing your life to be consumed by this type of negativity, and forgiveness of others is a great way to eliminate the possibility once and for all.

Forgiveness does not necessarily require you to forget what has happened in your past, but it does require that you consciously move on from it. You can certainly hold onto the event in your mind as a life lesson from which you discovered new and better ways to interact with others. Taking the affirmative step of forgiving another person is a sign of solid self esteem, healthy self awareness and an eagerness to build a positive life force from which everyone around you can draw strength.