Updated: Mar 18
Forgiveness is a powerful way to move forward; to relinquish yourself from the past; and to free yourself from suffering. Forgiveness is the action of letting go of negative feelings whether or not you believe the person deserves it. Forgiveness is about moving forward, keeping in mind that the benefits of finding and practicing forgiveness are far more beneficial for the forgiver than the forgiven.
Take note, before you embark on a journey to forgive the people who have hurt you, you must forgive yourself. If you are holding onto your past mistakes, it is vital to work through these trials. Your mistakes do not reflect, or in any way take away from your self-worth. Forgiving yourself looks like working through your faults, accepting them, and making the choice to move forward. This is also what the path to forgiving others looks like, but forgiving yourself comes with added feelings of freedom.
Your Health Relies on It
Forgiveness contributes to good overall health-- lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol, reducing pain, lowering the risk of heart attack, improving stress levels, decreasing anxiety, and helping to battle depression. The aforementioned health issues can be impacted by many underlying conditions, but forgiveness can help you move through internalized feelings and experiences that may not be serving you.
Hurt and disappointment are physical burdens and can trigger a negative immune response. In addition, chronic anger and frustration puts you at a higher risk for health concerns. Betrayal, insensitivity, and aggression can leave the residue of resentment, anger, frustration, and hurt. This is where you have the choice to ruminate or, forgive your wrongdoing, or wrongdoer.
Honor Your Boundaries
It is important to mention, forgiveness should not be confused with condoning poor behavior. There is a fine line between accepting poor behavior as okay and finding acceptance for the fact that something happened. Honoring and respecting your own boundaries sets the precedent for how others treat you. When you are operating with firm, fair boundaries you are less likely to be deeply impacted by the poor decisions and behaviors of other people. Honoring your boundaries and finding forgiveness can help you more easily return to a space of equanimity and ease.
Release Your Resentment
Releasing negative feelings like resentment, anger, and hostility carves out space for feelings of empathy, affection and compassion to enter. As you resolve negative feelings within yourself you may even find it easier to show others these affections. Holding grudges can lead to PTSD and depression, but from forgiveness comes satisfaction.
Reflect on how you reacted to a situation and how it made you feel. How has the hurt and anger you are experiencing affected you? This can be encouragement to let go.
Empathize with others. Can you relate to any part of another person’s experience? Putting yourself in the shoes of another person is a powerful way to forgive. This helps you relate to the experiences of others. All of a sudden challenging experiences become human experiences.
Acknowledge that no one is perfect. This can help inspire you to return to normal more quickly. Everyone makes mistakes. Remember, if you simply forgive someone with the intention to salvage the relationship, it is likely you will end up in a worse situation. Forgive with the intention to heal yourself.
Let go of expectations. There is no room for expectations in the practice of forgiveness. There will be instances when you wholeheartedly forgive someone, or you realize you should apologize, but just because you realize an apology is appropriate does not mean that others will feel the same. Forgive without expectation of anything in return, again, focus on your own healing.
Seal forgiveness with action. Sometimes forgiveness does not come with the opportunity to talk to the person you would like to forgive. You can instead journal or talk to someone you trust about your experience.
Remember, forgiveness is a choice.