Pick up the Phone: 18 Reasons to Forgive Your Family

v\]how to forgive your family The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.~Marianne Williamson

You have their number stored in your phone.

Yet you stare at the phone on the side of your bed, refusing to pick it up and call them.

You’ve been staring at the phone for days. Weeks. Years.

You don’t pick up the phone to call because of the pain they’ve caused you. (Or you simply might ignore their calls when they call.)

They’ve done you wrong – there’s no doubt about that.

They forgot to invite you to a family get-together. Or worse, their wedding. Or say thank you for the gift you spend countless hours searching for and purchasing for them with care.

They forgot your birthday, your anniversary, your family reunion. They didn’t send you condolences when your parents passed away.

They might have bad-mouthed you. Insulted you. Criticized you.

They weren’t there for you during a difficult time in your life and maybe even made the situation worse.

They could have abused you when you were younger. Hurt you beyond words. Assaulted you. Took advantage of your vulnerability and kindness. Maybe put you in a lifetime of therapy.

They tried to fight for the custody of your children in court. Or sued you to get a part of the family inheritance. Stole from the family business. Or never paid you back the large sums of money they owed you.

They’ve hurt you emotionally, drained you mentally, and stolen from you financially.

Took advantage of you and stole your happiness.

Why would you forgive these people at all – family or not?

18  reasons to let go of grudges and deep pain to forgive the people you love.

1. Your own inner peace and happiness is tied to your forgiveness.

Unfortunately, the grudge you’re holding is only hurting you more. The longer you wait to forgive, the longer the wrong, inequity, or injustice will burn in your heart.

They may have hurt you but you’re hurting yourself more by not forgiving. By allowing the wrong to replay in your life repeatedly and by embracing the anger the injustice brings, your mind isn’t at ease.

Don’t forgive for the wrong-doer – forgive if you desire peace and inner happiness.

2. You can breathe easier and be free of guilt.

Once you forgive and get the injustice off your chest, you’ll feel lighter and breathe easier.

You were feeling guilty for not having forgiven someone and the guilt was eating at your heart. Now that you’ve forgiven, you will physically feel better and healthier.

Forgiveness removes the heavy burden you’ve been carrying around.

3. You clear the bad energy and release what’s holding you back.

When you’re holding a grudge and holding anger in your heart, you’re filled with bad energy and negative vibrations.

When there’s so much negativity in the air, you have a difficulty living your best life. You can’t be as productive as you’d like to be. You’ll find your dreams take longer to achieve. And whatever it is you’re going after in your life will be filled with challenges.

Forgiving allows for positive energy to be infused into everything you do. Whatever you desire manifests more quickly. More positivity and good surprises appear in your life. Goals are achieved, dreams are fulfilled.

4. You break free from your ego’s hold on you.

When you forgive, you’re overcoming your ego which wants to be the head honcho in your life.

Forgiveness requires humility and giving in. It allows setting aside the notion that you’re too great to forgive.

Forgiveness breaks through the hardened edges of your stubbornness and lets you find peace.

5. You open the way for others to forgive you.

When you open your heart to forgive, others will have room in their hearts to forgive you.

You never know when or who you will need to ask forgiveness from. You will unknowingly hurt or wrong someone yourself one day. Permit the laws of karma to work in your favor.

6. You preserve relationships with people who care about you most.

No matter what happened, your family has known you your whole life and has your back.

They’ll be there in the tough and rough times. Excuse their trespass now and they’ll hopefully be there for you in the future.

While your friends may be there for you today, you never know about tomorrow. Nothing holds people together like a family bond so give your relative the benefit of your forgiveness.

7. You give others a second chance and the possibilities of new beginnings.

If this is the first time they’ve hurt you like this, give them another opportunity. Forgive because you believe in the good of people and that a one-time mistake shouldn’t cast over your entire relationship with someone.

Once you forgive, be open to new beginnings. Put this incident behind you so you can start over again with them. Change the dynamics of the relationship with them by finding it in your heart to forgive.

Forgiveness allows you to clear the air of bitterness and hard feelings.

8. You show your kids and others you love that forgiveness is possible.

If nothing else, forgive to set an example to your kids. You want them to be forgiving and kind individuals. You want them to practice humility and kindness.

There’s no better way to infuse a spirit of forgiveness in your children than by readily and easily forgiving others.

Turn your forgiveness into a teaching moment.

9. You allow the past to be in the past.

They’ve already hurt you once but why are you allowing the pain of the past to haunt you repeatedly?

If you continue to replay the past hurt in your mind and allow your emotions to bubble up each time you replay the past, you’re giving the wrongdoer the opportunity to continue hurting you.

When you forgive, you won’t have to be stuck in the past any longer. You’ll free yourself from the heavy feelings of anger and release the pain you’ve been holding in your heart.

10. You’ve taken responsibility for your own life.

When you forgive, you’ll take away the power from the other person. They no longer have the ability to hurt you anymore when you forgive.

You’ll also stop thinking of yourself as a victim. You had the ability to rise above your ego and your stubbornness to forgive. It’s not the victim who forgives, it’s the hero!

Become the hero of your life by seizing the day and forgiving them.

11. You remember that everyone is doing the best they can in their lives.

The person who hurt you was likely not intentionally hurting you. They might have done so without knowing what they were doing, not deliberately or maliciously. They just made a bad decision which they might regret as well.

They are trying to live their best life and do the best they know now. They may have more growing to do and are evolving into a better person. Don’t become fixated with the person you see today because they will become a more evolved person tomorrow.

12. You’re able to extend compassion and empathy to others.

By forgiving the wrong-doer you’re putting into practice the spiritual principles you’ve been taught your whole life.

By forgiving, you understand the other person’s background. You are taking their circumstances and hardships into account. You are giving their motivations and intentions the benefit of doubt.

You are putting yourself in their shoes and finding plausible reasons for why they behaved the way they did.

13. The greater the trespass, the greater your ability to forgive.

The hurt they caused you may be deep and painful but you show your ability to forgive and your highest self when you forgive anyways.

Step up to the plate and allow forgiveness. Show your character by taking the high road. No matter how deeply or intensely they’ve hurt you, be willing to forgive more.

14. Forgiveness heals.

When you forgive, your heart begins to heal. The pain, sorrow, guilt, and sadness begin to thaw in your heart. The wounds of the wrongdoing begin to heal and lead you back to a more joyful life.

Forgiveness is like medicine. And therapy. And a heart song.

When you forgive, you’re allowing for your life to rehabilitate and for you to move on.

15. They helped you learn and grow.

Think about what this person’s actions did to you. What did you learn from them? How does forgiving them allow you to grow?

How can you become a better person by forgiving? How does your character improve by forgiveness?

What lifelong lessons have this person’s actions and your ability to forgive had on your life?

16. Remember the good they’ve done for you.

Not everyone is a bad person. Even the person who has hurt you has done a world of good. Instead of focusing on the one screw up, think about all the positive ways this person has impacted your life. Think about all the good they’ve done in the world and their redeeming qualities.

Try to be grateful for this person and the things they’ve done for you and others. Shift your focus from one of fault to one of gratefulness.

17. It wasn’t personal.

Maybe the whole wrongdoing wasn’t intended at you. And wasn’t intended to be so personal. The person could have simply said something inappropriate. Or made an off-color joke. Or unintentionally hurt you.

They did because they messed up, not because they had it in for you.

It wasn’t malicious, intentional, or aimed at you – you were just the innocent bystander to their actions.

They didn’t intentionally not invite you to the party, they just didn’t have enough room for more people.

It’s not that they forgot to call you on your birthday, but they were dealing with a major life emergency at the time.

By forgiving them, you’re learning to love more and take things less personally in life.

18. Life’s short.

If you were upset with this family member and never spoke to them for the rest of your life, you’re not only going to be gnawing with guilt and anger during this time but you’re likely going to regret it at their life’s end.

How sad would it be that you perpetuated a grudge and refused to forgive if they passed away tomorrow? If you never got a chance to apologize, wouldn’t you be preoccupied with their wrongdoing your whole life? If it was a parent or grandparent, wouldn’t you spend the rest of your life, after they’ve passed, regretting your decision not to talk to them?

Won’t you feel guilty for not repairing the family bond and allowing for past wrongdoings to remain in the past?

Life’s too short to carry grudges. You and the person who hurt you will eventually move on from earth.

Why continue to allow the hurt and pain fester?

Forgive to live without regrets.

It’s been years since you’ve picked up the phone to call your relative. Or answered it.

On the side of the other line is your brother. Or sister. Or mom. Or step-dad. Or grandmother.

Isn’t it time to let the past be the past and bygones be bygones? Isn’t time to heal?

Isn’t time you pick up the phone and forgive your family?

Go ahead and dial the number and do what your heart is urging you to do – forgive.

Please share your thoughts and feelings about forgiveness in the comments.

About the author:
Vishnu coaches people who have hit rock bottom in their careers, relationships or life. Check out his blog at www.vishnusvirtues.com and sign up for weekly posts on overcoming adversity and starting over again.

Copyright: altanaka / 123RF Stock Photo

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  1. […] Pick up the Phone: 18 Reasons to Forgive Your Family […]

  2. Susan says:

    In all respect – forgiving the past does not always need to include letting them back in to hurt you again. As Maya Angelou said “When someone shows you who they are – believe them the first time”.

    I disagree. There are times it is completely ok to forgive but not let those people who devastated you in your past continue to hurt you today. Sometimes we simply learn to let go in love.

    • Vishnu says:

      Hi Susan, you bring up a good point. The post discusses several ways to forgive and reasons to forgive our family but you’re right, we don’t have to forgive and reconcile. And give family the opportunity to return and hurt us again, as you say.

      We can forgive simply to let go of the past, heal and move on with our own lives without re-establishing ties with the person who hurt us. Thank you for your comment, clarification and the Maya Angelou quote.

  3. michael mitchell says:

    I think a very good maxim to remember frequently is ‘not to take too much for granted.’ Therefore, I want to express gratitude for your article. I am going to write a book “How to Learn English Quickly 5: Virtues” It is the fifth in the series (on various topics). Thus, your article is one of many I will refer to for ideas. It is a certainty that there are more than 52 virtues, but that is enough to get on with. I also guess these virtues have translations into other languages i.e. they are universal traits. One of the points is that we do not need to be told what the virtues are… we may just need reminding and encouragement though! I find the list to be extremely useful. The other reason to be grateful for your article is… we find we are not alone. I have recently researched the amusing quote: if you have got problems then you’re normal! As with most therapeutic writing, we either take it or leave it, but the main thing is … we notice it! Thus, thank you very much for your effort and hard work to produce the article.

  4. Cheryl A. McKenna says:

    VISHNU: I would like to thank you for an amazing list that discusses the reasons / benefits, for forgiveness. Before, I never thought about the meaning of forgiveness, I just knew, no matter what, it just wasn’t for me. I did not want to listen to others talk about forgiveness, and I sure did not want to talk about it …..I took the “mature” way of saying “I DON’T want to hear it!” It was not until my mid forties that I finally got it….I understood some of the meanings behind forgiveness, and the first, most important one for me, was “Forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for you.” Many things changed for me once I started to learn about forgiveness, and all of the feelings behind it, all of the meanings behind it and all of the healing behind it, was so amazing! Thank You Vishnu, for your phenomenal list of the benefits, and learning about how to let go, so that things will get better in life. I have already made many, many copies for the people like me, who didn’t want to talk about it, but thanks to you, they can read about it…..and hopefully learn what forgiveness really it. Sincerely, Cheryl

    • Vishnu says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Cheryl. I’m touched by how much forgiveness changed your life and can relate with your experience, because it was mine. Not forgiving had kept me stuck in my life and prevented me from moving on. I found every excuse in the world not to forgive but finally found the courage to, upon the encouragement of a friend. The result was miraculous! I wanted to capture many of the thoughts that went through my mind which inspired me to forgive. Once a person forgives, they’ll wonder why they waited so long.

      Glad life changed for you for the better and I so appreciate your time and comment here. Thank you!
      Vishnu´s last blog post ..Surviving Indian Parents: 18 Ways to Stand Up to Insults, Criticism, and Emotional Abuse

  5. Raghib Ahmed says:

    Thanks for the post :).

    Forgiveness is so important to live a long, healthy life. Keeping pent up anger and negativity inside you is toxic. After all, they say that “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Forgiveness allows us to let go of that debilitating toxic, and live a better life.

  6. Razwana says:

    Thank you for this article, Vishnu. Forgiving is a tough thing to do when you feel like you’ve been hurt or wronged. Sometimes, forgiving doesn’t have to mean telling the person. The conversation can just happen with yourself – telling yourself you’ve forgiven them. People confuse forgiving with forgetting – not the same thing!

    What do you think? Is telling the person necessary?
    Razwana´s last blog post ..The one where he doesn’t show (no cheesy life lesson included)

    • Vishnu says:

      Hey Razwana, good point. I’d say that no, you don’t have to tell them you’re forgiving them and forgiving even internally is a great first place to be at. For advanced levels of forgiveness, I think forgiving in person or verbally does make the act of of forgiving more “real”. It also helps you move on quicker. Plus you let the wrongdoer know that you’ve forgiven them if you do it verbally.

      But as you say, you don’t have to forget what they did to you and as Susan mentioned above, you don’t have to let them back in your life. Appreciate your thoughtful comment here – thank you.
      Vishnu´s last blog post ..Surviving Indian Parents: 18 Ways to Stand Up to Insults, Criticism, and Emotional Abuse

  7. Really enjoyed the post, it has given me some things to think about. Forgiveness is for my own best benefit and also sets an example to others that great love and compassion is possible. Best to you Vishnu! – Eric
    Eric D. Greene´s last blog post ..My Journey to Sobriety

  8. As you and I have traversed this subject in previous notes, you know we are on the same page, Vishnu. Jesus knew the power and freedom which comes with forgiveness of others, and He made the ultimate sacrifice to die for us, forgiving us of our sins while we were yet sinners. It is His example I strive to follow each and every day, and I certainly can attest to the healing which comes when we do forgive the trespasses of another, and ask the Lord to forgive ours.
    Blessings, my friend!
    Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Our Reward is With God

  9. Hi Vishnu,

    I have forgiven all those who bullied me, who took advantage of my goodness, who made me work just because I found pleasure in working…the list goes on BUT it was not that easy.

    I always kept telling myself, I will never forgive…I kept repeating that to myself so that I don’t have to face this virtue of forgiveness till I read one day a passage on forgiveness. At that young age I just dismissed it, thinking I won’t look at it again but to my surprise, I got it printed each year for my students, while teaching note-making to them. Slowly the contents kept seeping into my skin and I started believing what the author had said – you forgive for your own self, when you forgive, you are no longer handcuffed to your perpetrator but when you forgive, remember that you should not give another opportunity to the one who hurt you to do it again.

    Keeping this in mind, I started forgiving all of them in my heart and you have understood rightly…healing starts the moment you decide to forgive! Thanks for another insightful article. Stay blessed!
    Balroop Singh´s last blog post ..Why Is Inspiration Such An Exciting Word?

    • Vishnu says:

      HI Balroop – what a lovely and redeeming story. So glad you found healing and peace after you forgave. And interesting how the message of forgiveness which you overlooked at one time, showed up repeatedly like a sign, urging you to forgive. Once we forgive once, it becomes easier the next time around. It can become a regular practice to have a more peaceful and fulfilling life. THank you for stopping by – I always appreciate your comments and insights.
      Vishnu´s last blog post ..Can’t Find Love? 6 Ways to Create Miracles in Your Love Life.

  10. Iva Ursano says:

    Awesome article Vishnu. I have learned that forgiveness sets us free. It took me a long time to forgive and I held onto anger and hatred. It ate at me until I realized that only I could control that and I needed to take back my power. When you hold onto negative emotions that are attached to someone that has hurt you, you’re hurting yourself even more! Let them go!

    Life is short. Shorter than we think. Too short for regret.

  11. Cherine says:

    Dear Vishnu and all friends,
    Yes, when you forgive you allow the past to be in the past, instead of carrying it around at all times. And depriving yourself the chance to live completely in the present. Anger drains all your energy uselessly and leaves you empty. I know this feeling. On the other hand, when you decide to face your enemy instead of hiding behind your anger, and when you decide to clear up the toxic anger as Raghib said, and approach that enemy a new approach, one of pure feelings and acceptance, then you’re most probably on your way to disarming him and rendering him neutral if not positive. Again as Raghib said ‘holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’, so why not instead of drinking the poison, making the serum. This way you heal yourself and neutralize any negative emotion the other person would try to infuse to you. I think there’s little chance for someone who hurts people to become a friend.And as Barloop said ‘remember that you should not give another opportunity to the one who hurt you to do it again’, I don’t need to pass through hurting experiences from hurting people endlessly ! It’s just sufficient, from my point of view, to communicate in a pure way, healthy and positive, without re-establishing ties with the person who hurts us. Iva has briefed it : ‘Let them go’.. I approve. Let them go from your mind..Let them go to their own life.. Free yourself.
    Love and prayers
    Cherine´s last blog post ..دعاء

    • Vishnu says:

      Hi Cherine – thank you for your visit and summary of my post and all the comments 🙂 You made it all easy to read and easy to understand. I’m all for forgiving and moving on – like you and others have mentioned, why continue to repeat a hurt in your life when you know the person has hurt you plenty of times before. Yes, free them from your life, your mind and yourself. Thank you for sharing your views here and adding the Raghib quotes.
      Vishnu´s last blog post ..Can’t Find Love? 6 Ways to Create Miracles in Your Love Life.

  12. parviz says:

    Thank you very much please help me find

  13. Richa says:

    This is a great article. However, there are millions of “family” member who have grudges and wounds so deeply that they would rather use another “F-word” (“Forget them!”) rather than “family”. They would rather simple say “No, we are related, but they are not my family.” To those people, “family” has a different meaning. It is more than simply being descendants of a common ancestry. Family does not have years of neglect and hatred. It is not permeated with unsolvable conflicts, misbehavior, child neglect or abuse…not just by the parent(s) but by many other family members. They are not usually filled with people, nearly every member, who have many addictions or compulsions, but they are not afraid to display them and have strong influences on other family members. Family is not full of violence as the primary means of control from both parents, grand-parents, and siblings. When I say violence, I do not mean “whippings as a form of punishment,” I am talking more so about abuse without reason. (E.g. Getting punched in the mouth until bleeding and being accused of stealing money that is later found in the pocket of the parent.) They grew up with this to the point they had to live in fear of multiple explosive outbursts at any given time. It is not having cousins, siblings, parents, and grandparents that suffer from a multitude of poor self-images that they inflict their pains and issues on each other. And because these people that I speak of see nothing different than what I just mentioned, they do not really know the positive sides of family. All they see is negativity. They distrust these relatives and the love they are supposed to express is minimal. So to avoid all the conflicts, all the lies, all the being taken advantage of, all the abuse, all the negativity…they’d rather separate themselves. To ask them “Won’t you feel guilty for not repairing the family bond?” The answer is “No.” How do you tell these people to let go of their grudges and forgive their “family”?

    • Vishnu says:

      Hi Richa – this is a great comment and raises a lot of important questions. Looks like your insightful question came in last 🙂 I agree with you – I didn’t take the unimaginable and violent actions of family into account. I didn’t take child abuse, violence or sexual abuse into account. I think the level of forgiveness here would really take a lot out of the person. But I would say we only have two options – right? Be upset, angry and hold onto the grudge. Unfortunately, when you do that, it’s hard to forget about it because we are seething with anger and hatred.

      The alternative is to find it within ourselves somehow (and I’ve tried to give us as many reasons as possible to rationalize an apology) to forgive and let go. I know it’s hard but forgiving the criminal or violent conduct in your heart allows you come to terms with what happened, release yourself from the power of the other person and allow the anger in us to subside. So, we forgive, move on and then can try to forget about what happened.

      You raised a good point – forget rather than forgive. I’m suggesting that forgiving lends itself to forgetting more easily. YOu don’t have to repair the family bonds even, just forgiving in your heart so you can be more at peace.

      What do you think?

      IF anyone else would like to add to this, would appreciate your thoughts.
      Vishnu´s last blog post ..Can’t Find Love? 6 Ways to Create Miracles in Your Love Life.

  14. lynne says:

    We must forgive to free ourselves from the bondage of anger, but that does not mean allowing this people to hurt us again. I like your post, forgiving is something that we should do to have inner peace and happiness. Thanks for sharing.
    lynne´s last blog post ..What a Hawaiian Rainforest Taught Me About The Power of Intention

  15. Sherill says:

    Its hard to forgive those who do not ask for them or who refuse to acknowledge they have wronged you, but I agree to let go of the past and to forgive is important to gain inner peace. Realizing that forgiveness will give you inner healing and release you from your pain is important and it is what can make you move on.

  16. Ashley N. says:

    There’s a saying that hate is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It’s so much better to forgive!
    Ashley N.´s last blog post ..A 10-Days-Into-the-New-Year Thought (Especially for Moms)

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  18. Very helpful and Great information,
    we appreciate advise especially coming from a professional.
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