Mindfulness, Connection, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Activity & Kindness
Forgiveness is One of the Greatest Gifts You Can Give Yourself.
Often times we think of forgiveness as being something we do for others, but the truth is, it does more for the giver than the receiver.
Let’s start with what forgiveness is and is not.
Forgiveness involves reducing or eliminating resentment and motivations of revenge towards someone. It is not about forgetting or pardoning an offense. The author of The Book of Forgiving and the leader of the Truth and Reconciliation Project in South Africa after Apartheid said this about forgiveness.
To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human. You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: The depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger. However, when I talk of forgiveness, I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than one being consumed by anger and hatred. Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator. If you can find it in yourself to forgive, then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator. You can move on, and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person, too.
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu
In order for us to be happier and to live lives that align with our beliefs and values we might need to forgive someone rather than being held captive by the byproducts of unforgiving. Research now tells us that by forgiving we also gift ourselves with lower blood pressure and heart rate; decreased levels of Cortisol (the stress hormones responsible for belly fat); reduction of angry, sad and anxious feelings; and the benefit of higher self esteem!
How to Begin Forgiving
There are many approaches to forgiveness and depending on the injustice, forgiveness may be a long process that involves consulting with professionals
Forgiveness can start with knowing what it is that you are feeling, by naming the injustice and emotions. You might write about them or share them with a trusted friend.
Remember that you are working towards forgiveness for yourself because it frees you from anger and resentment.
A New Attitude
Try to adopt a stance of generosity, believing that the other person is doing the best they can with the knowledge and experience they have at the time.
Own your part if you have one, keeping in mind your values and how you want to be in the world and in relationship with others.
Repeat. Forgiveness is not a one-time thing. We will get to do it over and over as the emotions resurface.
What you will notice over time is that the intensity of the emotions will decrease and they will resurface less often. You’ll also reap the rewards of the mental and physical health benefits.