It is normal that when someone you know or care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and even thoughts of revenge. Or, you can make it easy for yourself by embracing forgiveness and move forward. I think true forgiveness is one of the hardest things for most people to do; I know it is for me.
Most everyone has been hurt by the actions or words coming from another person. Might be a colleague sabotaging you in a meeting, someone criticizing your parenting skills, finding out that your partner had an affair, etc. The resulting wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of bitterness and anger.
If we don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays the biggest price. By embracing forgiveness, you can then partner with peace, hope, gratitude and joy. The simple act of embracing forgiveness can lead you down the beautiful path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Holding a grudge is easy
When you have been hurt by someone, particularly by one who you love and trust, the result is usually anger, sadness and confusion. If one keeps thinking about the hurtful events or situations, resentment, grudges, vengeance and hostility can take over your life and drown you. If the negative feelings overtake the positive ones, you will become a washed up shell of whom you are supposed to be, driven by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. You will eventually be defined by how hurt you are, which will become a crutch and an allowance for failure.
Forgiveness – what is it?
Forgiveness is a decision and a powerful way to let go of resentment. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other more positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can also lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.
It is important to remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
I personally found out the benefits of forgiveness…
A few years back I went through a very emotional and stressful situation. Emotionally it was one of the worst experiences I have ever endured in my life up to that point. Something I never thought would happen to me. I felt I was so unfairly treated and did not deserve it. I became so, so angry, bitter, and definitely looking for revenge. It was a stressful time, no sleep with nightmares, accompanied by loss of appetite. I was stressed out and became sick quite a few times during that period. Over time I became physically worn out with no energy for anything. I felt like a different person. No resemblance of my former self. I knew something had to change. I was open to something, anything.
One day, almost a year after the event, I met up with the person. We had a calm and selfless conversation. I began to understand that person’s side of things. All of a sudden I had this urge to forgive. It was not a conscious thing; it was more of an impulse. After listening, absorbing, and understanding what the other person was telling me, I suddenly said the words “I forgive you.” I am not kidding when I tell you that as soon as I said those words it felt like the heaviest weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt 100lbs lighter! I instantly began to relax and felt so happy as if I had just finished a massage session and meditation class simultaneously…the feeling felt so good it was like I had just taken something! Instantly, the psychological toxins left my body. One or two days later I felt like a healthy new person, ready to start a new chapter in my life.
So, I know though personal experience that letting go of grudges and bitterness decreases stress and clears the impediments to happiness, health and peace. Being able to “forgive” affords one the possibility of the following (some of these positive outcomes have actually been scientifically researched):
- Fewer symptoms of depression with less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Stronger immune system
- Improved heart health with lower blood pressure
- Higher self-esteem which leads to healthier relationships with the people around you
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
Forgiveness is a commitment
If forgiveness is not an impulse or doesn’t come spontaneously, then it needs to become a conscious commitment in order to start the process of change. Change is hard for a lot of people but thinking about the following tactics might help:
Consider “forgiveness” and its importance in your life at a given time. Think about how heavy life is when carrying anger and bitterness in your heart. Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being. Actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you, when you’re ready. This will help you move away from being a victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life. As I have learned, by letting go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You will find compassion and understanding for the person that you forgive.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain