Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward self, another person or a group of people who we perceive may have harmed us in one way or another. It can also be towards an event, a system, or any other entity. According to an article published on hopkinsmedicine.org, unresolved conflict may affect physical and emotional health. Forgiveness lowers the risk of heart attack, it improves cholesterol levels and sleep, it reduces pain and blood pressure, anxiety, depression and stress.
Forgiveness is a choice. We choose to offer compassion and empathy to ourselves and to those who wrong us. It is a way of life. We are presented with forgiveness lessons every day. It is up to us to learn and live by these lessons. Forgiveness is a magnanimous act of mercy that we extend to ourselves and to others. It indeed makes us happier and improves our mental well-being. Forgiveness sustains relationships and boosts kindness and connectedness. It can help heal deep rooted wounds, trauma, and past disappointments.
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting and excusing the harm done to us, it simply means letting go. When someone hurts us, we have the opportunity either to hold on to anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge, or to embrace forgiveness and move forward. We get to choose. I have personally made the choice to forgive my past personal disappointments. I was once married to someone who I came to resent with all my heart after a few years of marriage. This resentment was so severe I could not stand hearing his name. What I did not realize was that I was hurting myself and he was moving on with life. It took personal work to release anger and forgive him for what I perceived he had done.
What happens when we don’t forgive? We live in bitterness and become so wrapped up in the wrong we forget to enjoy the present. We live in the past and block our paths to the future flow of blessings. We also become depressed, angry and anxious. We fail to find meaning or purpose in life. We find ourselves at odds with our spiritual connection and lose sight of our oneness with the Creator.
Forgiveness is a process. It takes time and practice. It also takes energy and may not come as easily as we would like. Forgive yourself and give yourself time. Let go of expectations. Seek the help of the experts if you find that forgiving is too challenging. There are several tools available out there to help cultivate forgiveness. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die (Quote by Anne LaMotte)