05/07/2013 01:42 pm ET Updated Jul 07, 2013

Free Yourself With Forgiveness

I think one of the easiest ways to be happy is to understand forgiveness. We all make mistakes, everyone of us. But not everyone understands how important it is to truly forgive. Forgiveness is more of a feeling than an action. Most people think of forgiveness as more concrete than it actually is. You expect a detailed apology and we often try to "punish" those that have hurt us by ignoring them, talking badly about them, or even trying to hurt them back. In reality, forgiveness has nothing to do with the "I'm sorry" and everything to do with you. By holding grudges against someone, especially someone you care about, you're putting yourself in this mental prison and it's all you are able to think about. You owe it to yourself to let go of those negative feelings and move on. The sooner you can take a deep breath and tell yourself it is going to be okay, the better you will feel.

As we go through life, the truth is, some people will hurt us. A big part of growing up is being able to forgive those that hurt you, whether or not they remain in your life. You may think that someone doesn't deserve forgiveness for something that they have done, but remember, forgiveness is for you, not them. It does not necessarily mean letting someone back into your life, and certainly does not mean pushing aside your feelings to pretend everything is okay. Yes, some people will hurt you, but the key word is "some," because there are also "some" people that won't, and those people are the ones that make all of this worth it. We have all been hurt, every single one of us. We've been hurt in love, in friendships, and even in our families, but it is so important to find the ability to realize that you are not defined by what has happened to you. Rather than seeking revenge, try to understand that what has hurt you is in the past and you're the only one who can move yourself forward. You do not need an apology from someone who has hurt you to be able to get up, say it's okay and move on. When you are going through pain, there is one thing that I think always helps and that is hope. Hold onto hope. Things will go wrong sometimes, some people will hurt you, but it is important to be able to accept that; and hope gives us the ability to understand that maybe something went wrong because something else is about to go very right.

The most important person that you can forgive is yourself. Most people find it easier to forgive others than to forgive themselves. If you're the one who is seeking forgiveness, don't be afraid to give it to yourself first. We have all done something that we are not proud of, and it is amazing how many people carry that with them through life because they can't seem to forgive themselves. Personally, I think that guilt is one of the worst feelings there is. Making mistakes is part of life, and a bad decision does not make you a bad person. Forgiving yourself doesn't mean that you are allowing your actions to be justified; rather, it means that you are giving yourself permission to move away from those negative thoughts that will hold you back. Once you are able to do this, you will find yourself in a much better place and it will help you be able to make better decisions in the future.

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