The Truth About Forgiveness
When I think of forgiveness, I think of letting someone off the hook: “It’s okay that you did this to me.” This definition can make it difficult to forgive, especially truly hurtful actions and behavior towards me. With this idea, it is easy to build up a suitcase of proverbial baggage that only I carry (i.e., it only harms me and not the person who wronged me). This baggage is detrimental to my mental health and is unnecessary. Forgiveness is NOT what I, and many others, think it is.
True forgiveness, at least from a psychological standpoint, is “…a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you,” (Greater Good Magazine) and, here is the kicker, “regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” Forgiveness is all about the person who was harmed. It is that person deciding that they don’t want to carry around pain that is bringing them more harm so they free themselves from it, heal, and move on. The person who did the harming is still accountable for their actions and behavior. The hurt party just isn’t going to let it continue to harm them.
People who have a more natural tendency to forgive are less likely to have anger, anxiety, stress, depression, and hostility (Johns Hopkins Medicine). Grudges tend to result in a higher likelihood of suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder, severe depression, anxiety, high cholesterol, problems sleeping, pain, and higher blood pressure. Even if you struggle with forgiveness, it is a skill that can be honed and applied like any other. View the references below for more information and contact Heart and Solutions, LLC where we can help you learn and develop this skill so vital to our mental and physical health.
Greater Good Magazine. 2021. Forgiveness defined. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/forgiveness/definition
Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2021. Forgiveness: your health depends on it. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/forgiveness-your-health-depends-on-it
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