Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague took on your idea and made it theirs or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even getting your own back. However, if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays for it the most. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
What is forgiveness?
Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. 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, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to stronger feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong and hurtful thing that they have done or said to you. You can forgive the person without excusing the act.
Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life and be the better person. Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to healthier relationships and not just with the person you have forgiven. It can have greater spiritual and psychological well-being as well as less anxiety, stress and hostility. So as you can see it will actually have a lot of personal benefits for you!
Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?
When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take start to become all you think about. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. In turn you can build up a lot of negative energy around you and this may well start to affect others in your life. You may see people who are normally around you start to back off and you can even draw the wrong people into your life so be careful!
What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you’re unforgiving, you might pay the price by bringing anger and bitterness into many relationships and new experiences. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You might become stressed or anxious, even shut yourself away from society. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
How do I reach a state of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you can consider the value of forgiveness and how it can have a positive effect on your life. You may also want to reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being. When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you, again remember that you’re not saying what they did was OK but you are letting go of the negative energy connected to that event. As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.