The Powerful Benefits of Forgiveness
There is a very old saying that says, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” This is a warning to people to not act out in anger or resentment because you only end up harming yourself. Over time, these feelings of resentment can build until the individual develops feelings of depression or anxiety.
While forgiving others who have hurt us isn’t always easy, in the end, it greatly benefits our mental health and overall well-being. To be clear, forgiving others does NOT mean you agree with or condor their poor behavior. And it doesn’t mean you are announcing that your feelings don’t matter. Forgiveness simply means letting go of the negative feelings that are holding you down and causing you prolonged distress.
Again, forgiving someone who has hurt you isn’t easy, but it can lead you to a sense of peace and joy. Here are some steps you can take to forgive others:
Process Your Pain
Have you really faced your pain and processed it? You’ll need to do this before you can let those feelings go. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings deeply and fully. Talk it out with a therapist, cry, yell, hit your pillow, do whatever it takes.
Sometimes, in the process of experiencing anger for others, you may acknowledge some self-directed anger or shame. Maybe you played a part, or maybe you are being a bit hard on yourself for something that you didn’t do. It’s time to forgive your own humanity and any wrongdoing to yourself or others.
Forgiveness Is a Process
You may try to forgive, believe you have forgiven, only to have those negative nagging feelings crop up again and again. This is normal. Some days forgiveness comes easier than others. Honor your feelings on the days it is hard and know that it ebbs and flows.
Using Empathy Can Help
A critical parent acts the way they act because they, too, were the victim of a critical parent. An overbearing boss is dealing with a personal tragedy at home. Our cheating spouse is self-sabotaging his or her life because they have incredibly low self-esteem and do not feel they deserve happiness. Life is complicated and human beings are even more so. Try and understand why someone has hurt you. It may not take away the impact that their choices had on your life but it could help to get a bigger picture idea of the behavior, and lend to some relief through understanding.
And if you’d like to speak to someone, get some guidance and much-needed perspective, please reach out to me.