Are you haunted by something that happened in your past? Whether someone wronged you or you made a decision you regret, forgiveness is what you do for yourself, not for other people. When you forgive, it doesn’t mean that you approve of what’s happened. Rather, it means that you’re giving yourself permission to move on with your life.

When I think of forgiveness I think of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, politician and philanthropist who became South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999. He also spent 27 years in prison for political offences. Mandela didn’t just survive in prison he “prepared”. He prepared to forgive so that if, in fact, he did survive, he would be able to let go and move on. He knew that only in letting go would he be able to lead himself and others to transform his beloved home of South Africa. He is often quoted as saying “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear… Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.” He said “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Forgiveness is a choice. Don’t wait for it to just wash over you all of a sudden. You have to choose it.

Don’t give your power away. The pain of what happened is inevitable, but continuing to suffer is optional. The only person you can control is you. By constantly reliving the pain of what happened, you are giving your power away to the person who wronged you.

Don’t cling to negative feelings. Anger is nothing more than an outward sign of hurt, fear, guilt, grief or frustration. While the pain may never completely disappear, forgiveness can help you release the anger and bring those in your life closer to you.

There is no right timeline for recovery. For some people, making peace happens suddenly and spontaneously. For others, it takes time and effort. You may have to make a conscious effort every day to forgive. To say, “I’m letting this go. I’m not going to invest hatred, bitterness, anger, resentment in this person anymore.” You can find closure in forgiveness.

Listen to your internal dialogue. What are you saying to yourself? Write them down without censoring them. Is what you’re saying fair and true? If not, generate new ways of thinking. Someone may have said horrible things to you long ago, but it’s possible you took over for them when it stopped.

Time heals nothing. It is what you do with the time that matters. ?Remember that it is better to be healthy alone than sick with someone else.

Share your experience with others. Finding a lesson in what happened can help put the experience in perspective and your emotions in check. People can thrive and suffer at the same time.