You’ve probably been hurt by someone before, or you may have done something that you wish you hadn’t and are now mad at yourself. You know you shouldn’t let the anger or disappointment consume you, but forgiving that person or yourself can be easier said than done.

When you can actually get past it, though, you release all those pent-up negative emotions inside you, feel good about yourself, and confidently move forward with your life.

Letting It All Go

There are a lot of myths about what forgiveness means, which can make it seem harder than it is. Oftentimes, people equate forgiveness with giving in and not fighting for justice, but it isn’t about excusing bad behavior. You can still hold someone accountable while choosing to release resentment.

Basically, forgiveness is a conscious, voluntary step to let go of a grudge. And, letting go can take time. Research shows it can take a little over a year to forgive someone. It’s a journey with ups and downs, and you might go back and forth about what you want to do.

Here are some steps to move through when you’re ready to walk your path of forgiveness:

1. Make The Decision To Forgive

First is the uncover phase. Pinpoint, through therapy or journaling, exactly who and what made you upset. If you can, safely, tell the person how their actions affected you. Next comes the decision phase, in which you declare to yourself that you want to forgive. If you’re struggling to make up your mind, consider whether hanging on to your indignation is working for you. As it can happen with most of us, when you live with resentment, you tend to ruminate about the person who hurt you often and can slowly drift into a pessimistic worldview and avoid relationships as a result. Giving this one person so much power over you that now your ability to trust and feel joy is damaged can be a motivation in itself to forgive.

2. Lean Into The Positives Of Forgiveness

Take time to reflect and explore journaling about who you are as a person after leaving it all behind. Do you feel more worthy of compassion yourself? Are you more sensitive to the suffering of others? Do you feel a new purpose in life? If your answer to any of these questions is a resounding yes, give yourself a pat on the back. Mission accomplished!

3. Forgive Yourself Too

Okay, so you’ve mastered (or are working on) forgiving others. But what about you? It’s an internal thing too! It’s very common that we women often struggle with self-forgiveness because we tend to be perfectionists, and owning up means admitting failure.

A simple yet powerful trick: Get into the habit of asking what you can do better when you mess up. This can build actual confidence because your self-worth is coming from your ability to take responsibility and fix things. Carry it a step further by jotting down who you’d like to be and start to live out that vision.