Forgiving a Friend Who Hurt You

Forgiveness is the balm that soothes the sting from a friend who hurt you.

Friendships are a source of fun, companionship, love and support. There is a bond of trust and loyalty between close friends that provides the freedom to be real, authentic and honest. We each have a need to share our deepest secrets, express raw feelings, bounce ideas around, and get a reality check when we’ve wandered off course. Friends provide a safe haven to do all this. So when a friend betrays or hurts you in some way, it really stings. They have broken the bond of trust.

Forgiveness may not repair the friendship, as too much may have been damaged. But it supports the release of pain, prevents trust from being totally eroded, and restores faith in oneself to be bigger than the discord. Forgiving a friend means letting go of resentment, judgment and pain, while embracing love, compassion and freedom.

It may not be easy at first to forgive a friend who hurt you, but here are six steps that will ease your pain and bring you closer to forgiveness.

1. Write a letter. Sometimes we need to get our thoughts and feelings out of our head as a way to gain clarity and move towards forgiving a friend. Without intending to send the letter, write down all of your thoughts and feelings. Let it all out – express your anger, shock, sadness and any judgments you have. If you would like to actually send a letter to your friend expressing your feelings, write a few draft letters first to get the charge out. Then you will be able to communicate more clearly from your heart and soul rather than from your pain.

2. Honor your emotions. Hurt and betrayal can trigger a whole array of emotions including anger, resentment, sadness, fear and doubt. Feeling each of these and giving them space to breathe will allow them to release. Let go of the story and simply feel the most dominant emotion. Know that you are bigger than this strong vibration and watch its movement. Where do you feel it in your body? What sensations arise? Does it have a shape or color? Once it has been felt and released, notice what emotion is underneath and process it.

3. Identify old wounds. When our emotions feel raw or explosive, we may have lit up an old childhood wound. Look beyond the current experience of being hurt by your friend to see if it reminds you of a previous experience. This may provide you with an opportunity to heal old pain. Process any emotions related to the past and then look at the current experience with fresh eyes.

4. Practice acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean condoning what your friend said or did to hurt you. It simply means accepting reality as it is. When we are caught in right and wrong, or good and bad judgments, we move into resistance and this prevents healing. What someone should have done, isn’t a reality – what they did is. Let go of all judgments about what happened or what your friend should have done differently and accept your friend and the situation as they are. This will free your mind so you can settle into your heart, where forgiveness lives.

5. Feel the energy of forgiveness. Like any emotion or feeling, forgiveness is an energy which vibrates at a certain frequency – one that is high and light, supporting the release of pain. Close your eyes and center within. Turn off thoughts and relax into your body. Notice if your heart has closed and allow your heart to open. Feel the vibration of forgiveness in your heart. If you are visual, picture a beautiful rose several feet in front of you filled with the energy of forgiveness. Touch into this high, light vibration and let your body match it. Feel it flow from head to toe all the way down into the cells of your body. Allow it to melt away all pain and hurt from the experience with your friend. Then create an image of your friend a few feet away from you and look at him or her through the eyes of forgiveness. Tell them you forgive them and notice what this feels like. When it feels complete, let go of all the images and open your eyes.

6. Look for the gifts. Every experience we have, whether pleasant or painful, offers the opportunity for lessons, growth, and healing. Look past the experience of how your friend hurt you to the important life lessons it is providing you. What have you healed as a result? How will you grow from this experience? What has strengthened in you? What has softened?

From this place of forgiveness, you will be able to make a clear decision about whether to mend the friendship or let it go. Not all relationships are meant to last forever. Some people come into our lives to offer support at a crucial time or teach us an important (and sometimes painful) life lesson and then they leave. It’s up to us how we use this experience and what we gain from it.

Do you have any questions or insights on forgiving a friend who hurt you? Please share below.

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Dear Readers,

I am not able to be on the computer much these days due to my current activities, so I won't be able to respond to comments very often.

I encourage you though, to use the comment section as a place to share your experience, read about others' and to respond to and support each other with your situations.

Take care,

Gini

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26 Responses to Forgiving a Friend Who Hurt You

  1. Ciara says:

    i friend really hurt my feelings what will i do

  2. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Ciara,

    It’s unfortunate when a friend hurts our feelings, but it does give us an opportunity to heal our own inner wounds. As you read the article on forgiving your friend, see what suggestions resonate with you and apply them to your situation. Once the hurt has subsided, it will easier to forgive him or her.

    Take care,

    Gini

  3. laclark@pacbell.net says:

    Great reading information…what it reads, is exactly how I feel….

  4. Rosa says:

    This is wonderful tool to begin the healing process; my bestfriend of eighteen years betrayed me. Words can’t begin to described how hurt and truly taken aback I was. Although this tool is great and helpful, the biggest component to begin the healing process is knowing that your friend is remorseful of the hurt they have caused. It’s been approximately eleven months since the incident and our friendship is permanently damaged. In my heart I only wish her well, but the lack of remorse she demonstrated will not allow our friendship to be repaired. With time, I will no longer hurt but the experience has been an eye-opener in my world.

  5. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Rosa,

    Yes, it definitely helps to heal when a friend expresses their remorse for hurting us. But in the end, true forgiveness rises above that and has compassion for others lack of awareness, insight, sensitivity etc. and sees who they are beyond their personality flaws.

    Glad to hear you wish your friend well as you have forgiven her, and its understandable that you wouldn’t want to resume the friendship with her lack of remorse, as she may be unconsciously hurtful again – we do learn lessons the hard way sometimes!

    Take care,

    Gini

  6. K Kumar says:

    Hello Gini,

    Thanks for such a good article. :)
    Forgiving others is the best gift we can give to ourselves. It relieves the pain from our heart.

  7. Gini Grey says:

    Hello K Kumar,

    Yes, it is such a gift isn’t it. I spent about a year focusing on forgiving anyone I held a resentment towards and it was so liberating and it helped my heart to be at peace and open further.

    Thanks for your comment,

    Gini

  8. Sarah Wright says:

    Hello Gini,
    I have been living with a host family in another country for the past almost 4 months. Throughout, I have had a very difficult time with my host mother and she often has said things that have hurt my feelings and has not made me feel welcome in her home. This last week however, she has softened a bit and been kinder. I want us to have a good relationship, but I am still hurt and distrustful because of how she treated me in the beginning. What can I do?

  9. soumya says:

    Hello Gini,

    A friend of mine who really was very close to me nd emotionally attached to me…suddenly stopped everythng….nw hes just lyk a normal friend…d thing is dat he found some others nd started avoiding me….he started sharing everything wid d other person…i really want my friend back…wat should i do…..please suggest me…..

  10. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Sara,

    That’s unfortunate that your host mother has been unkind to you up until lately. My suggestion is to stay focused on the times when she is kind and in your mind, focus on what you appreciate about her. She will intuitively feel this and it will soften her further. I wouldn’t recommend being phony nice or appreciate though as she will sense this and it may irritate her. Just be yourself and be think of the things you honestly appreciate about her.

    Hope this helps,

    Gini

  11. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Soumya,

    I would tune into your heart and higher truth to get an intuitive sense of why your friend has distanced. It may be that he became too close to you and felt enmeshed somehow and needed to create space to create a healthier relationship with you. As you focus on your life and let go of it, he may move in closer again. But here are two articles you might find helpful on the topic:

    ~ http://ginigrey.com/LoveBug/why-friends-drift-apart-and-friendships-end/
    ~ http://ginigrey.com/LoveBug/when-a-friend-is-distant-how-to-rekindle-the-friendship/

    Take care,

    Gini

  12. Jas says:

    Hello thank you for this lovely article. This girl who I use to be best friends with for two years really hurt and betrayed me. What made things even worse was she was the only friend I had. We were in the same school and class together and I actually wanted to stop being friends with this girl for a long time but she just wouldnt’ leave me alone and she would get other girls to ask me to make up with her and in the end I would just give in so people would me alone.But once I left this school I found it much easyier to cut her off. I just never botherd with her again I didnt’ phone her ever again or nothing she never contacted me again either. This girl turned a lot of people against me. This girl was very possessive and controling of me. I think she may have even been jealous of me. I wonder did she miss being able to bully and control me I still feel so angry and hurt by this girl.I felt wary of making new friends because of my experiences with this girl.

  13. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Jas,

    I hope you are able to forgive this girl – not so you can rekindle the friendship as it does sound best to leave it behind you, but so you can be free of the hurt and learn to trust again.

    We all have unpleasant experiences in life, but it can be used for the good if we focus on that. For example, the experience you had with this girl has most likely taught you to trust your intuition and instincts about people better. This way its not about trusting others, but about trusting your intuition on whether the person is a good fit for you or not.

    You’ve probably also learned alot about controlling and possessive behavior which will support you to not be that way. So in one way, you can thank this person for being a teacher for you (albeit an uncomfortable one) as you are probably much stronger now within yourself.

    With new friends, if you set your intention for what types of people you want to connect with and how you want to be treated, you will be wiser and recognize when it’s time to set healthy boundaries.

    Take care,

    Gini

  14. cece says:

    I recently betrayed a friend when I didn’t mean to at all. She wanted her space and I respected that. I feel horrible and I can’t even forgive myself for what I did. I am soo hurt and remorseful that I don’t even want to eat anymore. I don’t know anything anymore.

  15. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Cece,

    It sounds like you’re being very hard on yourself. If you didn’t mean to betray your friend, then there is nothing to feel bad about even if you did something hurtful inadvertantly. And if all you did was give her the space she asked for, then how can that be a betrayal? I’m not sure how your friend reacted, but if she doesn’t understand then perhaps the friendship isn’t appropriate.

    My suggestion in addition to the points in the article is to stop listening to the part of you that is beating you up. We all have that inner critic in our mind and at some point we have to get bigger than it by noticing that it isn’t us, and it isn’t telling us the truth. Feel into your heart and soul for the bigness and goodness that you are and let that wash away the self-judgment.

    Imagine if a friend did what you did and felt horrible, wouldn’t you want them to feel better? Give yourself the love and forgiveness you would give a good friend who was being too hard on herself.

    Take care,

    Gini

  16. Heather says:

    Hi Gini,

    I’ve been reading many articles lately on forgiveness as this is a goal I hope to achieve for myself. When I came across yours it really spoke true to me, and I felt it got me closer to forgiving people who have wronged me. But some time has passed and I still struggle w incredibly painful feelings and I’m not sure what else I can do to move past these emotions.

    Without getting into too much detail, basically
    2 of my very best friends in college I found out slept w my ex-boyfriend after we had broken up. Although it’s history, it has been revived now as him and I have found love again years later- and it is only now that I’ve discovered their secrets. What is so painful is that it seems none of them seemed to care about me as much as I did them. I don’t know how to forgive any of them, especially since these were the girls who held me in their arms as I cried for months over his and my breakup. I’ve cut them both out of my life. I love this man but don’t know if I should do the same. I don’t know what else to do.

  17. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Heather,

    That is a hard one – to have your two friends not be honest with you at the time they slept with your ex. I understand cutting them out of your life. But if you feel love for your boyfriend and feel you can trust him in the present moment (and let the past be the past) then why not keep him in your life?

    With your girlfriends, forgiveness takes time. It’s important to feel the hurt and anger and allow it to bring up any old childhood feeling of betrayal as well so you can clear and release all the pain associated with it. As you do this, with your intention to forgive, you will.

    It may help to try to see the situation from their perspective – perhaps it was a slip in judgement and then they felt to uncomfortable to tell you about it and hoped it would just go away – we all make mistakes. If you can see they weren’t deliberatly trying to hurt you, it may be easier to let it go. And if for any reason they were being hurtful intentionally, then letting them go is the best thing you can do to get it out of your system.

    Take care,

    Gini

  18. Alice says:

    Umm….. My name is alice and i have been really hurt by some one who I have known since i was born. She always calls and asks if I want to hang out. Then all she does is try to kiss my brother. It never used to bother me until now. As in today. I was soooo mad and hurt that I think I finally understand that she never wanted to be my friend but to hang out with my brother. Where you came in is I read your articles last week for a class and and copied and pasted the website. I have read it over and over. I really really need to thank you because i don’t think that she is capable of being sorry what should I do?

  19. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Alice,

    You know in your heart of hearts if your friend is only using you to be closer to your brother or if she also cares for you. Perhaps it’s both. Are you comfortable asking her?

    Another way to see if your friendship is valid, is to hang out somewhere else where your brother isn’t. Then if she is really using you, all you can do is try to understand that she is human and has a crush on your brother and is letting that run her instead of valuing your friendship. And then forgive and move on.

    Take care,

    Gini

  20. mimi says:

    hello Gini

    When forgiving a friend, do I need to let her know that I am forgiving her in order to feel the joy of forgiveness? or just in my heart.
    since the incident (2yrs ago), my friend has emailed me twice asking me to put things behind us. But I have just ignored her emails not because I didn’t forgive her but because I don’t wanna open the door to a friendship so shallow. I am at a different stage in my life and things are just different…for me. I dont need ppl like her in my life as much as I miss her.

    We were friends for over 10 yrs and what she did really damaged our friendship for good. Her last email to me was about 4months ago….and although I ignored her emails I feel the need to letting her know that I have forgiven her and even miss her but I don’t wanna start anything new as it’s not worth it. I am just really hurt…and not sure what to write her…

  21. Gini Grey says:

    Hello Mimi,

    I don’t feel you need to let a person know you have forgiven them in order to feel the relief and joy of forgiviness. But if you feel it would help you let the past go and give your friend some relief then you could write to her letting her know you’ve forgiven her but that you are in a different place now and don’t feel like reconnecting. I think the simpler you keep it the easier it will be.

    Take care,

    Gini

  22. Rebecca from France says:

    Hi,
    thank you so much for this post! I’ve been hurt so much by friends this year that I needed that!
    Becca

  23. Rawz says:

    Everyone gets hurt by someone they cared about and the pain can be hard to live with. We must be able to learn to love people by forgiving them and letting them know they hurt you and let them know in detail why because they deserve the right to know what they did so they can ask for forgiveness as well as change to be better. When you decide to not tell them and talk about it behind their backs, you have taken their right to know what is wrong with them and to better themselves to love others and you the right way. Church people are just as bad as this than anyone else.

  24. abc says:

    i m nt frgiven.. wat shld i do?\

  25. Gini Grey says:

    Hello abc,

    Is it that you don’t feel forgiven, or you are not able to forgive? Practice what the article says to help you to forgive, but if you don’t feel forgiven, it is helpful to forgive yourself. We can’t make someone else forgive us, but when we forgive ourselves it releases something and then the other person may be more able to forgive. See if this article helps: http://ginigrey.com/LoveBug/forgive-yourself-for-past-mistakes/.

    Take care,

    Gini

  26. brendan says:

    Hi Gini,
    I recently hurt a dear friend i have had just for 7 months. She asked me to never keep any secrets from her no matter how bad it might be.I decided to tell her about an important issue that I should have said to her when she said this.And now I can’t live with my decision.It has only been 3 days since we last spoke and all I can think about is how can I show that I am truly sorry apart from just saying it.And what is a good way to do this? Send her a message saying ‘how are you’,i miss you,’ ‘Im thinking of you’.The love two friends share is the most precious gift they can give each other.

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