55+ Forgiveness Quotes To Help You Forgive And Forget

by Team Scary Mommy
Originally Published: 
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Forgiveness is hard, but holding on to hurt is harder. Humans are emotional creatures — when we feel wronged, pain and anger have us seeing red and longing for sweet revenge. Open any history book, and you’ll know that’s true. But any psychologist, couples therapist, and old, wise soul will tell you revenge isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be, and forgiveness is the high road we should all aim to take. It is the tenet and foundation of major religions and cultures. But, what is forgiveness, anyway? Is it an action or merely an emotion? Is it a public or private act? Is forgiveness owed, or is it earned? There’s a reason why there are so many wise sayings about being the bigger person, about freeing oneself from the grip of anger and revenge-seeking, and about forgiving, but not forgetting, lest we be made fools of again by the perpetrator.

The concept of forgiveness has even attracted the attention of social psychologists and researchers over the years, with one 1997 paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology defining the act. Michael McCullough, Everett Worthington, and Kenneth Rachal defined forgiveness as a change in motivation. They categorized it as “…interpersonal forgiving as the set of motivational changes whereby one becomes (a) decreasingly motivated to retaliate against an offending relationship partner, (b) decreasingly motivated to maintain estrangement from the offender, and (c) increasingly motivated by conciliation and goodwill for the offender, despite the offender’s hurtful actions.”

If you’re ready to start the healing process, forgive those who have wronged you, or are just looking for the right words to seek forgiveness yourself, this comprehensive list of forgiveness quotes will help get you there.

  1. “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” — Oscar Wilde
  2. “In the bible, it says you have to forgive seventy times seven. I want you all to know; I’m keeping a chart.” — Hillary Rodham Clinton
  3. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” — Mahatma Gandhi
  4. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
  5. “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” — Mark Twain
  6. “To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” — G.K. Chesterton
  7. “Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” — J.K. Rowling
  8. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” — Nelson Mandela
  9. “There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.” — Mark Twain
  10. “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” — Rita Mae Brown
  11. “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” — Abraham Lincoln
  12. “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” — John F. Kennedy
  13. “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” — C.S. Lewis
  14. “I could easily forgive his pride if he had not mortified mine.” — Jane Austen
  15. “An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.” — Kahlil Gibran
  16. “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” — Alexander Pope
  17. “To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.” — Confucius
  18. “One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him.” — Socrates
  19. “True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” — Oprah Winfrey
  20. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” — Nelson Mandela
  21. “Before we can forgive one another, we have to understand one another.” — Emma Goldman
  22. “When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
  23. “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” — Oprah Winfrey
  24. “It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew, and in that there is joy.” — Krishnamurti
  25. “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” — Siddhārtha Gautama
  26. “Nothing erases the past. There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness. That is all, but that is enough.” — Ted Chiang
  27. “Forgiveness is God’s greatest gift.” — Dan Brown
  28. “There is a hard law. When an injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive.” — Alan Paton
  29. “What was the point of being able to forgive, when deep down, you both had to admit you’d never forget?” — Jodi Picoult
  30. “We learn our lessons; we get hurt; we want revenge. Then we realize that actually, happiness and forgiving people is the best revenge.” — Madonna
  31. “It is surely better to pardon too much than to condemn too much.” — George Eliot
  32. “I can forgive you for leaving, but not for coming back.” — Jonathan Safran Foer
  33. “Each one of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” — Sheryl Sandberg
  34. “Forgiveness is the one gift you don’t give to others. Rather, it is the gift you give yourself, so you can finally be free.” — Shannon Alder
  35. “He couldn’t even tell whether he was angry or contrite, whether it was forgiveness he wanted or the power to forgive.” — Richard Yates
  36. “Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, though it hurts us and beat down by constraint the anger that rises inside us. Now I am making an end of my anger. It does not become me, unrelentingly to rage on.” — Homer, The Iliad
  37. “There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: Human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges — the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light.” — Eckhart Tolle
  38. “Forgiveness is the only way to reverse the irreversible flow of history.” — Hannah Arendt
  39. “Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” — Hannah More
  40. “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” — Reinhold Niebuhr
  41. “That’s one of the things we learn as we grow older — how to forgive. It comes easier at forty than it did at twenty.” — L. M. Montgomery
  42. “Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.” — Desmond Tutu
  43. “All major religious traditions carry basically the same message; that is love, compassion, and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.” — Dalai Lama
  44. “Throughout life, people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do because hate in your heart will consume you too.” — Will Smith
  45. “Forgotten is forgiven.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
  46. “How unhappy is he who cannot forgive himself?” — Publilius Syrus
  47. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” — Maya Angelou
  48. “It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place because it frees you.” — Tyler Perry
  49. “Take forgiveness slowly. Don’t blame yourself for being slow. Peace will come.” — Yoko Ono
  50. “Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love.” — Fred Rogers
  51. “Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.” — Bruce Lee
  52. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” — Lewis B. Smedes
  53. “I think the first step is to understand that forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It’s a gift you give yourself.” — T. D. Jakes
  54. “Acceptance and tolerance and forgiveness, those are life-altering lessons.” — Jessica Lange
  55. “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” — William Blake
  56. “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” — Bryant H. McGill
  57. “Forgiving you is my gift to you. Moving on is my gift to myself.” — Unknown
  58. “Forgiveness simply means loving someone enough to pursue healing instead of punishment when they have wronged you.” — Dave Willis
  59. “I believe forgiveness is the best form of love in any relationship. It takes a strong person to say they’re sorry and an even stronger person to forgive.” — Yolanda Hadid

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