Getting hurt by others is inevitable. It feels lousy. And sometimes that bad feeling lasts and lasts. However, many psychologists propose a radically simple – although not easy, way to feel better: Forgive. To have forgiveness is defined as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. In this article we will share with you 8 tips that will help you move out of victim mode and toward empowerment using forgiveness.
What Is Forgiveness?
Just as important as defining what forgiveness is – is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make it clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offence against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offences. Forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, but it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from any type of accountability.
Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognise the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.
“When you’re remembering a hurt or a wound that you haven’t resolved in your mind and heart, that remembrance triggers stress chemicals. It triggers physical distress. When you remember it often, you are stressing your body on a chronic basis – that has a physical cost.” – Fred Luskin
Why Is it So Easy To Hold A Grudge?
Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.
Some people are naturally more forgiving than others. But even if you’re a grudge holder, almost anyone can learn to be more forgiving.
What Are The Effects Of Holding A Grudge?
If you’re unforgiving, you might:
- Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
- Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
- Become depressed or anxious
- Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
- Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
The Benefits Of Forgiving Someone
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Improved mental health
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- A stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
- Improved self-esteem
What If The Person I’m Forgiving Doesn’t Change?
Getting another person to change his or her actions, behaviour or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.
What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?
The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly.
If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.
8 Ways To Forgive & Let Go
1. Get Mad, Feel Hurt & Grieve.
When someone hurts you, grief and anger are natural and healthy responses. So is self-pity! And there’s no set time for how long it takes to work through and process the hurt. Forgiveness is allowing negative feelings of outrage and grief to come in, and then letting them go because you’re now at peace with your life.
2. Ask Yourself Whether Your Anger Is Constructive Or Destructive.
Constructive anger solves a problem in the moment by galvanising you so that you respond appropriately to a threat. Destructive anger is repetitive and has no positive result. The person you’re angry at isn’t changing, and you’re not growing. In fact, you’re creating neural pathways that make the anger more likely. When anger becomes a habit rather than a way of processing, or when you hold on to it for a really long time, it turns out to be destructive both to your physical well-being and to the people around you. No good comes of it. It’s a misuse of one of our biological coping mechanisms.
EMOTIONAL CONTROL IN 6 EASY STEPS – CLICK HERE
3. Don’t Worry, You Aren’t Saying The Offence Was OK.
One of the biggest misconceptions about forgiveness is that it means you’re condoning the offender’s behaviour. In fact, forgiveness means that you don’t condone it. You know it’s wrong or inappropriate, but you choose to cleanse your heart. One should not make excuses for the behaviour. You just accept it and make peace. That’s very different.
4. Practice Stress-Reduction Techniques.
If you’re at the table and a family member says something hurtful, one of the simplest things you can do is to take a couple of breaths. Stress-management techniques soothe your body’s fight-or-flight response so you stay calm and keep your head.
15 QUICK & EASY WAYS TO CALM YOURSELF DOWN – CLICK HERE
5. Remind Yourself Why You Want This Person In Your Life.
When someone you care about acts in a way that is hurtful to you but you want to keep the relationship, it’s important to remember the good the person has done for your life. People are not replaceable. It’s important to remind yourself that you have one father, one mother, one best friend. This doesn’t mean people should stick around for mistreatment or stay in a bad or unhealthy relationship. It does mean that successful relationships are hard to cultivate and maintain if you’re holding grudges, keeping score, or thinking about ways to make someone pay for something he or she did.
Just about every relationship that you’ve ever been in requires some forgiveness to maintain itself. Everyone is flawed, and our perceptions are too. So getting hurt is inevitable. We have to have a mechanism for letting it go and making peace, in order to have happy sustainable relationships.
6. Set Boundaries.
When you’ve been hurt by someone you have a relationship with, some gentle boundary setting may be in order. That doesn’t mean calling people out, blaming them or disowning them. Learn how to simply say what you just did is not OK.
HOW TO SET BOUNDAIRES – CLICK HERE
7. Recognise That You’re Telling A Story That Can Be Changed.
Our brains are designed to keep us safe from danger and so a lot of the stories we tell ourselves are not accurate. We simplify to accentuate the threat. We create these distortions in our head to keep us safe. The quickest way to forgive is to change the story.
So if you’ve been telling yourself a story that five years ago, your friend didn’t invite you to her wedding, and it was a terrible offence that you’re still not over. Consider that perhaps the two of you were in a rough patch, and she may have made a mistake, but she did the best she could.
8. Make Yourself The Hero.
Attributing your present distress to something that happened in the past is a way of making yourself a victim. If I say, ‘The reason I’m unhappy now is that my wife left me three years ago,’ that’s creating victimhood. A more truthful statement would be ‘The reason I’m unhappy now is that my wife left me; I didn’t have adequate resources for dealing with it, and in the years since I haven’t figured out how to make peace with that.
When you tell yourself, ‘The only one who is going to rescue me is me,’ that creates a kind of heroic efficacy that says, ‘I have to solve this problem. I have to figure out how to be OK and be happy in a life that includes the painful end of a marriage.’ When you can do that, you gain a sense of your own resilience. When one is able to forgive, it leads to a little more efficacy in handling one’s life. Instead of being limited or afraid, you get a sense of, ‘I know I can cope with difficulty.’ That’s probably the biggest personal benefit!
When you can forgive or begin practicing forgiveness the doors of love and acceptance open. Your life will be brighter and full of smiles. No longer are you weighted down by the heavy restraints of hate and resentment. Instead you’re floating on a cloud of your own self empowerment. Your body becomes healthier, your mind clearer and your emotions are easily managed. Who knew from a few simple perspective hacks forgiveness could be so easy? Keep smiling. x