Don’t bring the grudges into 2020. Forgiving all the hurt may be beneficial for your health

Don’t bring the grudges into 2020. Forgiving all the hurt may be beneficial for your health

Let’s face it. Forgiveness is difficult, but staying angry or holding grudges is much harder. It gets quite awkward sitting at the same dinner table with the sibling(s) you haven’t spoken to in years. You go out with your friends for a drink on New Year’s Eve and you can’t make eye contact with someone or ask them to pass the salad. We can all relate to the elevated heart rate and jittering muscles we experience when it’s time to share a breathing space with people we’re not on good terms with.

Revenge will always have an unpleasant after-effect, just like scratching an intense itch. It feels really good while you’re doing it, but immediately after, you wish you never did it in the first place. Malice and grudges can only spread and turn into endless cycles of concatenated hatred. By default, your friends aren’t supposed to interact with someone who has hurt you, and everyone around the feud will get dragged into the distasteful situation.

Forgiveness is easier, better, and far healthier for you and everyone else.  

What does it mean to truly forgive?

To forgive is to set yourself free from a mental cage, a state of mind that only stalls your progress and keeps you permanently unhappy. [1]

To forgive a person is not to automatically forget the hurt they caused you. It doesn’t mean you should condone, minimize, or justify a wrong. You shouldn’t immediately force yourself to take things back to the way they were. Forgiveness shouldn’t be forced. It doesn’t mean you no longer feel the pain of the hurt and it certainly doesn’t have to be a one-time event.

Forgiveness is a gradual process of letting resentment and hard feelings toward someone go. It doesn’t exactly imply that you have to brew positive feelings toward the offender, but you’re letting go of deeply negative feelings and corrosive anger. A general definition from psychologists is that “forgiveness is 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.

You’re not doing it for that person. You’re doing it for YOU. They may not deserve it but you need it. 

Forgiveness improves your overall well-being

Research shows that forgiveness and letting go of toxic anger has been linked to lower mortality rates, improved mental health through lowered rates of depression and anxiety, and a reduced risk of developing physical symptoms of certain illnesses, usually those triggered by poor mental health. [2]

According to Psychologist, Professor Loren Toussaint, everyone can benefit from being more forgiving.

We know chronic stress is bad for our health,” he said in a statement. “Forgiveness allows you to let go of the chronic interpersonal stressors that cause us an undue burden.”

Professor Toussaint and his colleagues in 2016 conducted a five-week study on the effects of forgiveness on stress. They discovered that an increase in forgiveness would mostly lead to a decrease in stress levels, which in turn reduced mental and physical health symptoms. [3]

As with several other human traits, some people are more forgiving than others, but everyone can let resentment go.

A genuine apology can set things straight

While we don’t always have to wait for an apology before we forgive, receiving a declaration of regret for a wrong done to us can aid that process. It may not put anything in perspective about the person’s true intent or character, but it would help you to “find a place in your heart,” literally.

An apology can either be a declaration of regret or an admission of responsibility, a demonstration of sorrow, or actions geared toward making things right and preventing hurtful events from happening again.

Depending on the intensity of the pain a person has caused you, forgiveness could take time. There is no switch on your emotions that can be be turned on or off as you please. You have to give yourself time and make conscious efforts to let go of hateful feelings. Anger only eat yous from the inside out. You deserve better.

The first step to accepting an apology is to forgive yourself. 

If you’ve blamed yourself in any way, you need to forgive yourself. Victims of physical and sexual abuse have often said that they found it easier to forgive their abusers when they learned not to blame themselves. They would wonder why they didn’t avoid a certain place or person or why they wore a certain outfit. No matter what people do, no one has any justification to sexually abuse them. It is NEVER anyone’s fault and it’s always easier to move on when you accept that you did nothing wrong.

However, don’t apologize to someone if you do not truly feel sorry for your actions. You may only begin to make excuses for your wrongs and fuel their pain. An apology must always be sincere.

As long as you’re safe, forgive…

We should always ensure our emotional and psychological safety when forgiving a person. There could never be anything wrong with forgiving ourselves, but it gets a bit more complicated when it’s directed toward another person.

Sometimes, anger could be protective. If forgiving a person would make you feel more vulnerable and distressed, then don’t feel guilty for not letting go. Prioritize your emotional safety.

But you’re stronger than that. No one should make you feel unsafe or vulnerable. Breakthrough the chains they’ve put on your mind and try to feel better. Deep anger brewed for a very long time would only hurt you in the end. You deserve to be lighter, to feel better, and to stay happy.

References

  1. If someone hurt you this year, forgiving them may improve your health (as long as you’re safe, too).The Conversation. Misha Ketchell. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  2. Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health.” APA. Kirsten Weir. Retrieved January 2017.
  3. Forgiveness, Stress, and Health: a 5-Week Dynamic Parallel Process Study.NCBI. Toussaint et al. October 2016.
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