“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.” —Unknown
Forgiveness can be the hardest of things especially if you feel the hurt you’ve experienced is so egregious and painful it seems that nothing will ever wipe it away. That’s often the case when couples divorce or a friend hurts another. While it may feel that the only way you can get back at that individual is to harbor a grudge and not forgive them, who are you really getting back? It might feel good to withhold forgiveness, but down deep you know you’ve got to let go in order to move on. And often, the person you are angry at may not even know the extent of that anger and simply goes on with his life, which makes you even angrier.
Anger is like a poison tree that continues to feed our imbalance with the world. Injustices done to us are like poison if we don’t take the antidote because we let them take over our thinking, our actions and ultimately our health. The impact of not forgiving can be quite harmful to our health and the ability to cope with our lives. According to a 2011 article by the Mayo Clinic, refusing to forgive may cause more mental anguish and physical harm. The article points out that forgiving can lower blood pressure, lower stress, reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain, lower the risk of alcohol and substance abuse, bring on greater psychological and spiritual wellbeing and nurture healthier relationships. Wow!
But let’s get real. Letting go of those resentments is not so easy. After all we may have invested a lot into that anger, so much so that it becomes a guiding factor of our daily lives, and in some instances we may need professional help. Okay, it does take time to heal, but the old adage that time heals is certainly true, that is if you’re open to healing. The paradox of forgiveness may mean you don’t require an apology, and can be a matter of acknowledging the hurt and moving on because you can’t really make anyone feel remorse for what you perceive as a hurtful. Walking away from a bad situation is often the healthiest action we can take.
The power of forgiveness, besides improved health and mental state, is that it also makes you ponder your own past and hurtful behavior. Accepting that you’re not a perfect human being can go a long way towards having the awareness you need to forgive. Forgiveness then is a gift you give to yourself and can lead you to a more fruitful and happy life. Who can you forgive so you can free yourself?
(Image from ceca.cc)