The Gift of Forgiveness

forgivenessWho hasn’t suffered pain in a relationship or been angered by the toxic remarks of a colleague? And what about the mistakes you’ve made, whether by poor choices or in hurting others? Negative feelings like these can fester if left unexpressed.

Holding on to resentments is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Studies show that forgiving can be as beneficial to you as to those who have wronged you. Give it a try. When you access genuine compassion, you’ll experience an increased sense of wellbeing. Reframing negative thoughts into positive ones can alter your mental focus. And in allowing your body to calm down, you lower heart rate and blood pressure.

Releasing stress by letting go of grudges is an excellent way to start the holiday season. Gain clarity as you find answers to these questions:

What are you clinging to? Maybe it’s character armor – the defense mechanisms that protect you from exposure or hurt. Your ill feelings could be related to your need to be right, to save face, to dig in your heels. Or your strong morality won’t allow you to give in ‘until justice is served.’

Where are your character strengths? Look deep inside and uncover the essence of your ethical standards. Instead of resorting to judgments, hostility or thoughts of revenge, access the part of you that is empathic, kind and emotionally generous.

How can you shift perspective? Some can’t forgive until the perpetrator apologizes. Others only when they have exacted a promise that the problem won’t happen again. Still others forgive but won’t forget. For your own sake, begin by taking a first step.

When will you move forward? For some personalities, psychological suffering is more complicated. Perhaps you continue to harbor resentment, make all apologies conditional, or still feel guilty. In these situations, a therapist may be helpful in guiding you toward recovery.

Remember that acceptance is a process, not just a single act. Transforming feelings of shame, anxiety or blame becomes a catalyst for change. You’ll see that releasing blocked emotions can propel you toward greater resilience and personal growth.

We live in uncertain times and often protect ourselves by clinging to rigid beliefs. Let’s try to cultivate a stronger faith in our ability to remain open in the midst of challenging circumstances. And wouldn’t it be healing for all of us to send forgiveness into the world where it is so needed today?


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