Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself and here is why. Practicing forgiveness is essential to your health and overall wellbeing. Learning to forgive will make you a happier, stronger person who is able to have better relationships. As a bonus, it makes you more attractive!
Forgiveness is a huge part of maintaining health and beauty. To live your best life, it is important to process anger, hurt feelings, and disappointments. If these feelings are allowed to linger and fester they can show up in your health and in your face. I am coming to understand Forgiving is one of the most profound and beneficial things you can do to have the life you crave.
As good as forgiving sounds in theory, it can sometimes feel like one of those things that is impossible to do. I mean, exactly what is it? It’s not an action, nor can you just wish it to happen in an instant. Forgiving is a total pain in the ass. Kind of like giving up sugar…We know it’s good for us but is it even possible?
Unfortunately, forgiving isn’t always easy. Sometimes I love the feeling of righteous anger. And wouldn’t forgiving somehow be letting the person I’m mad at off the hook? I’ve thought at times that I would never forgive someone—that they don’t deserve forgiveness.
And you know what? Maybe they didn’t. That part of the equation simply does not matter. Forgiveness is something YOU do, for YOU. Period. Sometimes it allows a relationship to grow and progress. Sometimes it allows you to let go of a relationship. That’s one of the most interesting aspects of forgiveness—it works in either situation.
I feel strongly that forgiveness is important whether that person remains in my life or not. Forgiving someone does not mean that person has to stay in your life. And if you want them out of your life, forgiving actually helps with the process.
Because, guess what? When you hold on to your anger at a person, you hold them in your life. Yes, the act of holding onto that angry energy keeps them at some level active in your mind and in your life. Even if you don’t see them, you may keep attracting people like them. Trust me, that is not what you want.
On the other side, forgiveness is essential to preserving family and real friendships. None of us are perfect and we have all thoughtlessly hurt another. I have seen families and friendships torn apart over anger, hurt feelings, and an unwillingness to forgive.
I’m not talking about the horrible “unforgivable” things some people experience. I’m talking about more mundane yet wounding things. We all know siblings that haven’t talked in years. We all know children who haven’t talked to their parents in years. Or parents who refuse to talk to their children. Sometimes, removing yourself from someone’s life is what is needed. Yet, I find it terribly sad and such a waste, when the anger is over something someone said or did that hurt but is something that could be potentially discussed and used as a basis to grow from.
Forgiveness is Cool and Here’s Why You need to Forgive
Forgiving is good for YOU! Chronic anger has detrimental health implications. Staying actively angry for long periods of time can actually affect your heart, pain levels, and even blood pressure. Some studies say that forgiving can even extend your life!
Forgiving helps you attract and maintain better relationships. When you are in an unforgiving mode, you are not attracting your best relationships. You might actually keep attracting poor relationships. Being able to forgive helps you cherish and preserve your good relationships.
Forgiving helps reduce stress and anxiety and helps to clear your mind of negative talk and emotions. This improves your mood and sense of well-being and allows happiness and contentment to be your primary emotions.
Thoughts on Forgiveness
Forgiving starts with the intention to forgive. You have to want to forgive. Unlike, say fixing a leaking faucet, the way towards forgiveness is a little more intangible. There are many things you can do to facilitate it but in general it’s more of an attitude and way of being as opposed to specific actions.
Forgiveness is a process and it has its own timeline. It can take time for the healing to take place. But with an intention (sometimes that is ALL you can do at first) to forgive you will reach that place.
Forgiveness doesn’t require the participation of the other person at all. This is by you for you.
Forgiveness doesn’t require an apology. In fact, the people you MOST need to forgive will most likely never offer you an apology.
Understand that even without forgiving, you may never get closure. With forgiving, you may never get closure either. You can get peace of mind though.
Even if the person you forgive never wants to talk about what happened—it doesn’t mean they haven’t thought about it—a lot. People have different tolerances for discussing situations that are painful or shameful.
Keep in mind that the person who hurt you has been hurt themselves. They are acting from that hurt place.
Keep in mind, it is your hurt self that feels like you have been wounded. No matter how justified you feel you are or how you believe it’s your right to be angry, at the heart of it all is a scared hurt child.
How Do You Forgive?
Allow yourself to feel all your emotions: anger, disappointment, betrayal, hurt, and sadness about the person and situation. It’s important to own how you feel before you try to forgive.
Accept that no one is perfect. No one. Not even you. When we make mistakes, we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. But when someone makes a mistake with us, we attribute bad intentions to them.
Acknowledge that you want to forgive. Even if forgiving feels like the LAST thing you want to do, voice your desire in your mind, on paper, or to a friend. Having this intention sets the healing of forgiveness in motion.
Explore your part in the situation. In what ways did you contribute to what happened? Sometimes we stay in a relationship too long and it ends in a messy way. Sometimes we have hurt the other person as well. It is empowering to look at our own responsibility in creating a situation.
Be curious about what you’ve learned from this situation or person. How did this painful situation help you grow?
Allow forgiveness to happen. There will be moments when the anger will be reactivated and you will feel like it’s just not going to happen. Let the anger come and go. Keep your intention to forgive in place and don’t get stuck in that angry place.
Take whatever actions nurture your forgiving self. Write, meditate, walk, listen to music, or create. If you have a wise friend who can let you vent without reinforcing an unforgiving stance, then go for it.
Find new activities or connections to take your mind off the situation. I use times like this to find new activities, plan a trip, start a new project reconnect with friends and family. Finding something to get excited about is a very effective way to transform the pain of being hurt into a something that adds value to your life.
Let this situation be a catalyst for growth and meaning in your life. Being hurt offers you a window into your own spirit and a chance to heal and become a stronger wiser person. While it may feel at times like it has broken you, it is doing the opposite. It is strengthening you and can ultimately be a gift.
Forgiveness is a Gift
It is a wonderful thing to realize that beyond the initial hurt feelings, you are stronger than than the petty things that come up in life. Though they can feel huge at times—if you really think about it, most of them are not. By committing to forgiving, you commit to claiming your own power and the knowledge that another person cannot hurt the real you.
By forgiving, you become a stronger more resilient person. Choosing to forgive helps you be healthy and whole. Forgiving someone is not a gift you give them—it is the gift you give yourself.
Keep showing up my friends!
A Gift to Help You With Forgiveness
To help you with forgiving, here is a short, guided meditation on forgiveness. Listen to it as much as you need to help you process your painful situations.
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.