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Forgive And Move On In 3 Steps

Don't let someone else's mistakes bring you down. Here's what you need to do to let go of the pain.

While you know that forgiveness is good for your health, it can be extra difficult to get past the hurt sometimes, especially when you feel wronged by someone you truly care about. "But if you don't try, bitterness and resentment could spoil your ability to trust other people," says Frederic Luskin, PhD, founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project and author of Stress Free for Good. "Forgiveness is an action that you choose—and you don't need to confront the person you're letting off the hook." Here are some steps you should take:

1. Vent to a neutral party.

Let it all out to a sympathetic listener who doesn't know the culprit. "Once you've aired your grievances, see if you can come up with one or two rational explanations for the person's bad behavior," suggests Luskin.

2. Stop obsessing about it.

"Dwelling on the situation gives it—and the person who wounded you—too much power," says Luskin. It also leaves you emotionally exhausted. Luskin's advice? "If you catch yourself mulling over the offense, consciously turn your attention to something—anything—else that is positive in your life."

3. Change the script.

"When you're ready to move on, mentally rewrite the story of what happened," says Luskin. "Instead of seeing yourself as a victim, cast yourself as a strong person who's triumphed over a painful experience. Picturing yourself in a place of victory gives you increased confidence to deal with future disappointments."