How to learn to forgive

How to learn to forgive

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. -Marianne Williamson 

What is forgiveness?   Forgiveness is an intentional conscious decision to let go of any feelings of resentment, vengeance or ill-will toward a person or group who you perceived has harmed or done you wrong.  It is letting go of the need to get back at someone, wishing someone harm or holding on to grudges. The inability to forgive is most harmful for those who refuse to forgive. They turn a painful event into long-term agony and suffering. Sometimes the other person is unaware there is a problem.  Yet the person who refuses to forgive remains in a self-imposed mental prison. 

What forgiveness is not.  Forgiveness is not condoning, agreeing, accepting or forgetting what happened. It does not make a wrong right, nor does it mean the person has to agree with you, forgive you or even accept your forgiveness.

Remember forgiveness is for you.  Let go simply because the burden is heavy.  Far better for you to let go and forgive than to hold on to anger, hurt and betrayal that frequently contributes to depression and anxiety. It may be helpful to change how you feel about the situation or person or attempt to place yourself in the other person’s shoes to gain some understanding.  Consider we are all human and have made mistakes and would want forgiveness.  Journaling your feelings about a situation may help you forgive and move forward. Rather than focusing on the negative emotions you have surrounding the event, reflect on what you have learned from the situation.  In the grand scheme of life, consider it just may not be worth it in the end.  Also consider the person you really need to forgive may be yourself.    

Consider the benefits of forgiveness.  Forgiving frees up mental space for positive things.  Dwelling on resentment and grudges increases blood pressure and heart rate. It also lowers the immune system, which makes us vulnerable to all types of illnesses.  Forgiveness can help relationships grow by making them stronger and increasing the ability to resolve conflict.  Letting go can make us more likely to cooperate with others and foster feelings of trust and commitment versus driving us further apart.  

Most of all, forgiveness can give you peace.