We all have been hurt by someone’s words or behavior in the past. At times, we want to forgive people who harmed us or we need to forgive ourselves. But sometimes we question if we should. Even though we try hard, the bad feeling in our stomach remains, right?
When hurtful words are exchanged, not always they are intentionally trying to harm you. They may be situational or from lack of attention. And well, sometimes they just come with bad intentions and cruelty. Even though those words may come from a close person or a complete stranger we are the ones who suffer. We store a lot of energy by keeping a grudge and holding onto these resentment feelings. When we are under the influence of these bad feelings, it is hard to function effectively and keep a smile on our faces. At times these limitations can become so dominant that it can affect our day-to-day living.
Maybe the hardest challenge is to forgive ourselves. Making a mistake, especially if it causes us to lose something valuable or important for our life can cause depressing thoughts and anxiety. Also, our self-esteem can be affected by these negative thoughts. When we free ourselves from these feelings and thoughts, the benefit is ours. It sets us free from the past, and the future opens. Energy gets freed. Our quality of life improves, and the joy comes back to our life.
Forgiveness is an important virtue in our lives but there are many different opinions about it. Forgiveness is critical in restoring relationships around us and in our personal lives. Even literature supports the benefits of forgiveness in our own healing!
Our life comprises of relationships in many different areas. Family relationships, professional relationships, romantic relationship, social relationships, etc. We deal with people every day so we are exposed to hurt someone or being hurt by anybody all the time, so that’s why it’s critical to learn to forgive in order to have healthy relationships and therefore be happy.
The benefits of forgiveness are:
- We can decrease our anxiety, anger, and depression.
- We can feel a growth in hope and self-esteem.
- It is an important part of the couple’s healing and progress
- It opens up a brighter future with more possibilities by freeing us up.
- Our health can be restored by cultivating positive thoughts. For example, for a stronger immune system, decreased stress, lower blood pressure, and more.
- It will change the relationships around us, as peace and happiness will come back.
- When we feel happier and more balanced, our environment can benefit too.
There are 3 main dimensions of forgiveness:
- Essentiality: Forgiveness is essential for repairing family relationships or couples. We can take steps towards greater personal well-being when we realize about the importance and healing potential of forgiveness.
- Intentionality: For some people, forgiveness is an active choice, not a passive involuntary feeling. They view forgiveness as a decision or a discovery that shifts their thinking and feelings which leads to a change from resentment and bitterness to understanding. Others believe forgiveness must come for them because they have a passive association with this disposition.
- Benevolence: The compassion we feel towards the person who hurt us has a determined role for the wrongdoers in forgiveness. Some say forgiveness is not a voluntary act but something spontaneously happens during the recovery process, it is healing itself. Others think this is something started by empathy for the offender, and expanded by humility, then leading to a public commitment to forgive.
In therapeutic services to clients suffering from distress due to a hurtful act by someone, clinicians can help clients work towards forgiveness when this is appropriate. Such forgiveness counseling emphasizes that forgiveness is a choice and the therapist will help clients understand how forgiveness differs from reconciliation, forgetting, condoning, and accepting. Remember, holding a grudge mostly hurts us rather than the other person. The health benefits are priceless when we decide to put the past behind us and live for the future. Improving our quality of life will bring more joy back into our lives than holding onto grudges and old grievances.
Written by: Cecilia Tarnoki, Registered Marriage & Family Therapy Intern. Call me today at 954-903-1676.