When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.
Pretty much everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, a family member ridiculed you, your co-worker sabotaged a project or your spouse had an affair. Perhaps you suffered untoward abuse by family members. These wounds, while often devasting can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. 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 feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Forgiveness can let God in and allow His healing balm to wash away the pain and open your heart for more love.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace and calm that helps you go on with life.
What are the benefits of forgiving someone?
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace and love. Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Happier outlook
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?
When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad, bitter or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.
What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you’re unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. 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 find forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:
- Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
- Ponder the facts of the situation, your culpability, 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
- Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life
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 for others going through a similar situation.
Forgivness releases you from bondage and makes room for reconciliation, blesses the morning with new sunrises and new opportunities for happiness. Give it a try!