Brave Compassion: This is What Forgiveness Looks Like

For those times when it can be hard to forgive and let go

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I like what Marin Luther King Jr. says: “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” Forgiveness is one of the most authentic forms of empathy; a constancy of compassion allows for forgiveness. You need compassion in order to forgive, because you need to be able to understand where that person is coming from, even if you yourself would never make that choice. When you forgive someone, you make an active choice to look at that person and acknowledge that you see that person for what they are, another imperfect human being. You choose to look at that entirety of a person with kind eyes and a warm heart as you tell them:

I understand why you did what you did. I accept that you are exactly where you are in life, which is exactly where you are supposed to be in your own personal journey. I can see that what you did was a reflection of where you were, which is not always an indication of who you are. I am meeting you with love and choosing not to let this experience define neither you nor me.

Forgiving someone else does not diminish the sharpness nor the magnitude of your pain; it does not erase the hurtful memories or experiences. Imagine that you are on a hike on the path of life, trying to figure out who you are as you make sense of this big and beautiful world. Along the way, someone places a large and heavy rock inside of the backpack you are carrying. At first, you might wonder why life has presented you with this giant rock as you puzzle over its meaning. But, as you continue to hike, you start to feel more tired and move more slowly.

Forgiveness is the process of being able to recognize and feel the weight of that rock and realize that you need to remove it from your backpack; you need to let go so you can move forward into the world at full force.

Indira Gandhi calls forgiveness “a virtue of the brave,” and indeed, how brave we must be to confront the people and the experiences in our past that have devastated us, betrayed us, broken us so cruelly and say, “it’s okay, I forgive you.” We are brave for meeting our pain halfway, actively touching it, and then, by choice, letting go.

If you live a life filled with love for yourself and for all other living beings around you, I promise you, it will be easier to forgive. It will be easier to tell that friend, that parent, that ex-lover, that teacher, that co-worker, whoever that person is that it’s okay and there’s a better way to move forward.

Lastly, all compassion and love starts from within. You have to love and accept yourself first before you can extend that to others. Be kind to yourself every day in little ways so that you may be kind to others in even larger ways. Remember, when you forgive, you are choosing to be very, very brave.

– I wrote this for me and I also wrote this for you. I forgive you.

Originally published at

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Forgiveness: How to Forgive Someone who Doesn’t Deserve your Forgiveness

by Nara Lee
woman under tree

The Power of Forgiveness

by Dr. Lori Ryland
Forgiveness = Healing

Forgiveness is the Greatest Recognition that We’re Healing

by Terri Kozlowski

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.