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74 Forgiveness Quotes That Will Help You Finally Let Go

It's time to shake off resentment and anger. Let these forgiveness quotes inspire you to move on from past hurts.

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Forgiveness quotes that will bring you peace

Grudges are easy to hold and hard to let go of. Who hasn’t squabbled with a sibling and still felt sore about it years later? We can even hold on to guilt and loathing for ourselves—everyone is their own harshest critic, after all. But forgiveness can be a major part of reaching inner peace. So whether you’re looking for encouragement to forgive yourself or inspiring words to help you accept an apology from a friend, these forgiveness quotes are a good place to start.

The best quotes about forgiveness will set you on a path forward and get you one step closer to letting go of the past. Return to these wise words whenever you’re holding on to hurt and need inspiration that’ll help you heal.

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The best forgiveness quotes

1. “Forgive the past. It is over. Learn from it and let go. People are constantly changing and growing. Do not cling to a limited, disconnected, negative image of a person in the past. See that person now. Your relationship is always alive and changing.” —Brian Weiss

2. “Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in other people.” —Roy T. Bennett

3. “It is in the school of forgiveness that the lessons of life are learned.” —Raymond Holliwell

4. “Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them.” —Bruce Lee

5. “Good, to forgive; best, to forget!” —Robert Browning

6. “It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.” —Jessamyn West

7. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

8. “Men and women who can’t get over their past … That’s what ghosts are.” —Stephen King

9. “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” —Alexander Pope

10. “As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a rent-free space in your mind.” —Isabelle Holland

11. “It is better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make a mistake in punishing.” —Muhammad

12. “Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears.” —Marcus Aurelius

13. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” —Mahatma Gandhi

14. “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” —Corrie ten Boom

15. “Take forgiveness slowly. Don’t blame yourself for being slow. Peace will come.” —Yoko Ono

16. “For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?” —bell hooks

17. “Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this. Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.” —Robert Jordan

18. “Surely it is much more generous to forgive and remember, than to forgive and forget.” —Maria Edgeworth

19. “True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience.'” —Oprah

For more great quotes that will make you think, check out these life quotes.

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Quotes about forgiving others

20. “Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed.” —Desmond Tutu

21. “But they’re family, and you forgive them, even if they are the human equivalent of hyenas. Because that’s what you do … Forgive.” —Kristan Higgins

22. “Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.” —William Paul Young

23. “Never forget the nine most important words of any family: I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me.” —H. Jackson Brown Jr.

24. “Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.” —Marlene Dietrich

25. “In marriage, every day you love, and every day you forgive. It is an ongoing sacrament—love and forgiveness.” —Bill Moyers

26. “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

27. “Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.” —J.K. Rowling

28. “I like second chances. I’ve given people second chances. You have fall-outs with friends, and forgiveness is a great thing to have. It’s not easy to forgive. I definitely don’t forget, but I do forgive.” —Odette Annable

29. “There’s nothing worse than holding a grudge. Listen, people can do unforgivable things, but you have to let it go and say, ‘Look, we’re all human beings. We make mistakes.’ To hold any kind of resentment is like taking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” —Jennifer Aniston

Quotes on forgiveness can be truly life-changing quotes. Through forgiveness, you free up your mind to focus on positive emotions, not toxic animosity.

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Forgiveness quotes about love

30. “If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.” —Mother Teresa

31. “We must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” —Reinhold Niebuhr

32. “A heart filled with anger has no room for love.” —Joan Lunden

33. “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” —Buddha

34. “You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.'” —Maya Angelou

35. “To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” —Robert Muller

36. “Anger begets more anger, and forgiveness and love lead to more forgiveness and love.” —Mahavira

37. “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

Love and forgiveness are intertwined, and if these quotes haven’t already made it clear, know that forgiving others is a form of self-love. After all, letting go of all that anger can improve your mental health.

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Quotes about forgiving yourself

38. “Forgiving yourself, believing in yourself, and choosing to love yourself are the best gifts one could receive.” —Brittany Burgunder

39. “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.” —C.S. Lewis

40. “Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, to be at peace, to be happy and to be able to sleep at night. You don’t forgive because you are weak but because you are strong enough to realize that only by giving up on resentment will you be happy.” —Luminita D. Saviuc

41. “How unhappy is he who cannot forgive himself.” —Publilius Syrus

42. “Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.” —Barbara Kingsolver

43. “As we know, forgiveness of oneself is the hardest of all the forgivenesses.” —Joan Baez

44. “Forgiveness is so incredibly powerful. Forgiveness is not for the other person. It is for you.” —Tyler Perry

45. “Forgiveness is a reflection of loving yourself enough to move on.” —Steve Maraboli

46. “Forgiveness is the needle that knows how to mend.” —Jewel

47. “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” —Oprah

48. “It’s not just other people we need to forgive. We also need to forgive ourselves. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done.” —Mitch Albom

These “forgive yourself” quotes will help you gain the inner strength and courage you need to let yourself off the hook.

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Forgiveness quotes about freedom

49. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” —Lewis B. Smedes

50. “Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.” —Dave Willis

51. “When you forgive, you free yourself from making your happiness depend on what another person does or doesn’t do.” —Barbara J. Hunt

52. “Let’s shake free this gravity of judgment, and fly high on the wings of forgiveness.” —India Arie Simpson

53. “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

54. “Forgiveness is designed to set you free. When you say, ‘I forgive you,’ what you’re really saying is ‘I know what you did. It’s not OK, but I recognize that you are more than that. I don’t want to hold us captive to this thing anymore. I can heal myself, and I don’t need anything from you.'” —Sarah Montana

55. “Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, ‘You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.’ It’s saying, ‘You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.'” —Jodi Picoult

56. “Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you are.” —Cherie Carter-Scott

57. “The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” —John Green

Once you’ve read all these forgiveness quotes, manifest your inner freedom and bright future with these success quotes.

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Quotes about forgiving your enemies

58. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” —Nelson Mandela

59. “I always forgive my enemies. Nothing enrages them more.” —Felix Grendon

60. “It’s said in Hollywood that you should always forgive your enemies—because you never know when you’ll have to work with them.” —Lana Turner

61. “How can I better destroy my enemies than by making them my friends?” —Abraham Lincoln

62. “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” —William Blake

63. “I think it’s the hardest thing in life, to forgive. Hate is self-destructive. If you hate somebody, you’re not hurting the person you hate. You’re hurting yourself. And that’s a healing. Actually, it’s a real healing, forgiveness.” —Louis Zamperini

64. “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

65. “It’s all very well to tell us to forgive our enemies; our enemies can never hurt us very much. But oh, what about forgiving our friends?” —Willa Cather

Life is too short to hold on to grudges. Releasing long-held resentment can give you clarity, relieve some stress and help you maintain healthier relationships.

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Bible quotes about forgiveness

66. “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.” —Numbers 14:18

67. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your sins.” —Mark 11:25

68. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” —1 John 1:9

69. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” —Ephesians 4:32

70. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but 77 times.'” —Matthew 18:21-22

71. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” —Colossians 3:13

72. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” —Luke 6:37

73. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:14

74. “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” —Micah 7:18

Whether you’re inspired by these Bible quotes or the other words of wisdom above, it’s clear that forgiveness is in your best interest. And when it comes to letting go of the past, there’s no better time to start than today.

Bellamy Richardson
Bellamy writes about memes, quotes and other pop-culture topics for Reader's Digest. She has also written about celebrities and entertainment for People magazine, and she is currently an editor at BuySide by the Wall Street Journal, where she covers gifts and retail.