How to implement forgiveness? Any patterns?

One trigger of my depression was a manager I worked for a couple of years ago. The hassle with this guy started on the first day of the job, continued over two years until my final break down and quitting. After that I was a different person, depressed, anxious and full of self doubt.

Now, after more than ten years I’m healing mentally but still have troubles thinking of this person without resentment and anger. Since a couple of days I’m thinking about fogiveness and forgiving especially this one guy. I want to release all the anger and hate and progress with my healing.

Any idea how to forgive a person that hurt you? Seems like I don’t get the concept of forgiveness…


I think that’s a very difficult question to answer. I had a manager who I hated for years after I quit with a mental breakdown. I never did and won’t forgive him, he was nasty. However, for me as time went on I forgot about him and so he doesn’t worry me any more. I don’t think it is necessary to forgive someone but in it seems as if you are struggling to move on. I think I was lucky in that I eventually found a major cause of my depression. Having my depression lifted gave me a very new view on life. Is it possible that it is your depression that is preventing you from moving on with your life? I found that depression prevented me from being able to work and it is possible that I turned that into ‘I hate that manager so much that I can’t face the people in a workplace’.

I assume that you have considered that their may be mitigating circumstances to his actions. He may have been going through a divorce, had a berevement or suffered from sleep aponea. It is unfortunate that you will probably never know but such issues could make him cause problems for others without intending to. It is not a reason for him to treat others badly but it could help you understand if you knew the reason behind his actions.

That said, there are plenty of people who are arseholes without good reason but you can’t clean them up with air freshner! You could try to find ways to avoid them such as self-employment or work for a small business, but I don’t know any easy choices I’m sorry to say.

I’m sorry that I don’t have a better answer for you. The obvious suggestion is that maybe you should chat with a counsellor to see if they can give you a new perspective.

I’ve been in similar situations and my experience has been that forgiveness does nothing. Forgiving someone is you telling your thoughts that you don’t feel the way you do. So is it any wonder why you struggle to forgive? This person caused you pain, changed your life in a way you could but have predicted or prepared for, and for all the horrible things you’ve gone through they take no responsibility.

So you’re hurt, you’re angry, it’s unfair. These are all normal, expected emotions. There’s nothing wrong with you for experiencing them.

Now you’re hitting a point where you don’t want to experience them - that’s great! That means you’re ready to move on. Moving on is difficult for everyone. It isn’t a switch you can flip, it isn’t a mantra you can tell yourself until you believe it. It’s hard work.

I can’t tell you how you can move on, that’s something that will beer unique to you. I can tell you what helped me move on :

  • I wrote a time line of my career to prove to myself that in spite of my breakdown I have been successful.
  • I wrote down all the hardships I experienced during and after the breakdown. I put a start next to the ones most people will never experience and cannot understand.
  • I compared these two side by side and proved to myself that I’m not only amazing for surviving this, but I’m pulling myself out if the muck more and more. It helps me to remember how far down I was so I can appreciate where I am now.
  • I realized I’d done all this by myself. Despite that manager and that job shattering me, I put myself back together and I’m going out there every day, or most days. I’ve won.
  • I considered how this was a good thing for me. This was really hard. How could being unmade be a good thing? For me, the answer was that I’m resilient in a way I wasn’t before: I put more effort into ensuring I won’t go back into a situation let that, and if I find myself in one I get out. I carefully screen my potential employers, I have certain questions I ask in every interview, and I know what the wrong answers are. When I get into a job, I spend my first several months analyzing things and just filing odd things away in case they show a bigger picture later. I’m increasingly less surprised when things go wrong.
  • I thought about what I would say to my old manager if I encountered him in the world. Once I had done all the other steps, I realized I would just laugh in his face - because he could never understand my journey and his life is so much shallower for it.

I hope that gives you some ideas. This is not an overnight process, it can take months or years. You can do it, you’ll get there.

Specifically in dealing with the anger, Dr. David Burns’s book “Feeling Good” is unquantifiably helpful. Discovering the root of my anger helped me to understand it, and once I understood it, the power was gone. Like how learning a magician’s secrets makes the illusion boring.

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@OvercomingMyself - thank you!