Can you forgive?
Most of us have been hurt by others at one time or another. We have been the victim of intentional or unintentional words of hostility; a look of disdain or hate; even physical abuse; or the sharpness of another’s neglect or disregard. Isn’t there a way to get past the feelings of victimization, and also find the health-benefits of doing so? Can we forgive?
The Mayo Clinic has written that forgiveness has the following health benefits:
- Healthier relationships
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
But what is forgiveness and how can we be better at forgiving ourselves and others? An anonymous writer once wrote, “Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.” I like that. Gandhi called forgiveness “the attribute of the strong.” He further stated, “Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love.” And finally Henry Ward Beecher said, “Keep a fair-sized cemetery in your backyard, in which to bury the faults of your friends.”
It takes great courage and strength to forgive. To some it may be easy, to others, much more difficult. But to take responsibility for another’s faults and carry them around is not our duty. Forgiveness is a commitment to changing one’s thinking. The Mayo Clinic also shares a few ways to reach that state of forgiveness. They are:
- Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time.
- Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being.
- When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you.
- Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life.
I love the thought of MOVING ON. Each of us has the opportunity to go forward in our lives and release the past to the past. Sometimes we need to let go of a wrong done to us, and reach forward to something else to think about. We need to grab onto love in order to forgive. We need to love ourselves, and look deeper at the one who has hurt us. The jealousy, anger, lust or other emotions they felt that made them act so cruelly was the real culprit. Our forgiveness may be the step they need to help them better control their actions and resolve their feelings.
You are not responsible for changing another. You are only responsible for yourself. Forgiveness will help you feel better – both spiritually and physically. It will resolve bad feelings and emotional upset. It will put a smile on your face, and calm in your heart. It's not easy, but you deserve to feel better, and MOVE ON!