When we forgive, we can begin to heal. That’s a powerful statement when you are thinking about people who have been severely wronged. Whether your feelings have been hurt or you have suffered at the hands of a physical abuser, learning how to forgive them can be key to propelling the healing process. Studies show, that finding the path to forgiving allows acknowledgment of the wrongdoing and helps us process the next steps.
The art of forgiveness is the decision to let go of the desire to be right or hold blame for something or someone else. Forgiving allows us to begin to make peace with the painful things that have occurred or are occurring to us and move forward. Many leading healthcare institutions in the USA (John Hopkins Medical Center, Mayo Clinic and UC-San Francisco) agree that the benefits of forgiving are great.
Some of these include:
- Healthier relationships
- A stronger immune system
- Improved overall health
- Increased hope, trust, happiness and gratitude.
Forgiveness is a choice and we all must determine our own timelines for offering that forgiveness. It doesn’t mean that we forget what happened. Many people struggle with forgiveness because they think it makes them appear weak or that they are saying what happened is okay. However, just the opposite is true. Your forgiveness does not mean that the poor behavior is acceptable or excused. It does not take away accountability or justice for the wrongdoing. It means fully acknowledging the behavior, learning from the experience and increasing the opportunity for healing.
Forgiveness is not for the other person. It is for you. You can now work on releasing anger, grief or other emotions that are harmful to your physical and mental health. Studies show that holding on to those emotions increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, psychological disorders and other health issues. Chronic stress weakens the immune system.
Looking inward to see where we can practice forgiveness is likely to improve our life.