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 condone 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 an increased sense of peace — and can even help you make your way toward a greater sense of well-being. Here are some steps you can take to forgive others:
Process Your Pain
Have you really faced your pain and processed it? This can be a helpful step to let those feelings go. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings deeply and fully. Cry, yell, hit your pillow, do whatever it takes.
It takes two to tango, as they say. While we can easily point to others and blame them for the breakup or ugly incident, the truth is, we were there also. Usually we played some role. This does not excuse their behavior, it simply opens a place for self-reflection. We can forgive our own humanity and any wrongdoing to ourselves or others.
Try to Understand
True forgiveness is impossible without a sense of understanding. You can try to forgive, claim you have forgiven, only to have those negative nagging feelings crop up again and again. When we try to understand why someone has acted the way they have, it can help to decrease negative feelings and helps us have some perspective.
A critical parent acts the way they act because they, too, may have had a critical parent. An overbearing boss may be 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. None of this excuses wrong-doings – it simply helps put them in a larger context. Life is complicated and human beings are even more so. When we take a moment to try and understand why someone has hurt you — even when seemingly unjustified — your feelings about it may begin to soften enough to begin to move forward.
If you’d like to speak to someone to help move beyond past hurts or betrayals that have left you feeling stuck, go ahead and reach out. We are here for you — 425.357.9111 ext. 1.