For Your Own Sake, Learn to Forgive …and to Forget

by Percival J. Meris on March 28, 2010

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HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE OFFENDED YOU? Can you forgive them? If not, why? Perhaps, you feel that, if you do not forgive, you hurt your offender, thus giving you a chance to get even. If so, then you may not know that you are hurting yourself even more. Is it worth your while to hurt yourself, as well?

Not To Forgive …Hmmm, That’s Bad for You.

When you think about a hurt, your sympathetic nervous system springs into action. It revs up our body, and activates your fight-or-flight response to protect you from danger. The body releases stress chemicals, giving you this uncomfortable sensation, just like you are in danger.

Not forgiving prolongs this stress feeling to a point that it saps your energy. As you stubbornly hold on to your grievances, it undermines your physical health, your psychological well-being, and your social relationships.

Harboring such negative emotions as anger and hatred causes several unhealthy internal physical reactions that bring havoc to your immune system and eventually lead to the occurrence of a variety of diseases.

This fight-or-flight response changes your thinking ability. It rechannels some of the brain’s electrical energy from its intellectual region to the more primitive and reactive ones. Decisions made out of primitive reactions are certainly not the result of careful and productive thinking.

Socially, it isolates you not just from the person who hurt you but also from those who have done you no harm.

Not forgiving is just that – a negative force. Your grievance means that too much space is rented in your mind to hurt and anger. What a waste of useful energies!

Learn To Forgive.

Do you want to know the secret for achieving happiness, balance, and better health? Let go of past hurts, and absolve people who’ve caused them on you. That is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is simply the healing of your own mind and heart. It is the act of releasing resentment and hurt about past actions. It is enjoying the benefits of feeling peaceful and taking responsibility for how you feel.

No offense is unforgivable to everyone.

Forgiveness is bestowed on people, not on their wrongdoing. It does not let the wrongdoer off the hook for his despicable actions. Never, therefore, confuse forgiveness with acceptance of the undesirable behavior. It is never condoning unkindness.

You forgive a person for what he did in the past. You do not forgive him for what he will do the future.

Forgiving requires that you only renounce your anger and resentment. You do not have to forget, ignore, or condone anyone or anything.

Learn to Forgive. It’s Good for You.

Your hesitancy to forgive is principally due to lack of compelling reasons to do so. When you lack motivation to forgive, you do not experience the wonderful feeling that comes along after you have forgiven. Lack of motivation and inadequate training make you react to hurt in ways that do not work.

Health Benefits

When you forgive another person, you benefit from it as a consequence. A great deal of stress is lifted off your shoulders. With less resentment, you enjoy better physical and psychological health.

A peaceful feeling descends upon you, as you heal your grievances. Make peace with yourself so you can feel whole and happy to be alive again.

Relationship Benefits

If you don’t forgive, you feel cold and distant to your offender. When you feel cold outside, you feel cold inside. You expend so much useless energy this way, especially if you have to spend time with him regularly.

Having no relationship with this person feels worse than having some. So, try to work out new, corrective experiences that will repair this relationship.

Besides, restoring your relationship could benefit you strategically. For example, if he happens to be your boss, you could be protecting your job.

Learn to Forgive. But How?

Like love, forgiveness cannot be forced. Create conditions where forgiveness is more likely to occur. Work on diminishing your feelings of hostility and self-pity and increasing positive emotions. It is then more likely that a genuine, heartfelt release of resentment will occur. Here is how to do it.

Acknowledge Your Hurt

You are not ready to forgive until you are clear about how you feel. Acknowledge how you really feel deep inside. Put these feelings into words to crystallize them.

Learn not only about your feelings but also about the actions that led to those feelings. Know exactly what was done that was unacceptable. Write down your experience on paper, and review it.

Decide What You Want This Hurt To Turn Into

When you forgive, you do not necessarily have to empty yourself of all hostile feelings. You simply let what are left stay there, but allow the more tender or positive emotions to co-exist with them.

Work Through Your Hurt

Seek support and guidance. Talk openly about it with a few trusted people. Try a therapist or a support group. If these are not available, anonymously chat about it on the internet.

However, do not share your pain with people who would hurt you.

Let Go Of Your Resentment

Now, you are ready for the healing.

Admit your anger, but try not to dwell on it too long. Then, release all your anger and bitterness.

Just think of how peaceful you are going to feel as a consequence.

To Forgive …Perchance To Forget?

To forgive is divine, but to forget is unrealistic.

Forgiveness does not involve forgetting in the literal sense. Forgiving does not wash away the memory of the injury completely. The forgiver still remembers his painful experience.

But he remembers them graciously – perhaps, now with subdued anger or contempt. It is but normal in the beginning for a residue of the hurt feelings and sense of loss to still hang around in his heart.

The forgiver accepts this anger as being adaptive and normal. But he attempts to reduce them further, until it is neutralized and he is desensitized.

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To start healing your life, you must first learn the value of forgiveness. Heal your life now with the power of forgiveness and open your life to infinite possibilities.

Forgiveness is not about forgetting, though. The memory of the hurt may still be ingrained deep within your heart. Simply acknowledge the pain, and learn from it. Accept the way your offender is, understand his situation, and walk away, if you have to.

It takes practice to perfect the skill of forgiving another. When you look into the brighter side of life, you will soon see just how life can be so much better for you.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

steveborgman March 30, 2010 at 6:25 am

Percival, thanks for sharing this great article. I read a very touching account of forgiveness over at the Personal Excellence Blog (by @celestinechua). She summarizes in great detail through her own story of a broken relationship how she came full circle with forgiveness. It's definite a success skill that we all need to master in order to be truly joyous and happy.

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