It is easy to say, “I forgive you” to someone who has wronged you. It is NOT however, easy to mean it! Oftentimes, we let this phrase slip out, to solve our problems in-the-moment and short-term, but, when we simply say it for the sake of ending an argument, the effects last: wounds remain, unhealed, and your quality of life and life-style suffers, to boot!
Forgiveness is an essential part of your life…or it should be. Your mind was not meant to harbor ill memories, nor do your emotions remain stagnated with anger. But, without forgiveness as an integral part of your life, that is what will happen–if you refuse to let go of the wrongs done to you (not forget, but accept for your advantage), you will never be able to experience the joys of life. You will be too consumed with anger.
No one ever said, “Life was easy”, unless they were un-naturally lucky. Instead, most of us will admit that life has its good and bad moment, its highs and lows. Of course, staying positive for the highs is easy; everything goes your way—it is the low points that truly test your nature and character:
Do you have enough trust in yourself to remain positive in your life?
Do you have enough faith in the power of forgiveness to see yourself through darker times?
Forgiveness should be looked upon as a gift you give to yourself. This makes forgiveness an inward act, as opposed to an outward act, merely for someone else’s benefit. While the person you forgive may feel better, their feelings cannot match the joy you give yourself by your willingness to forgive.
That might however still be much easier said than done. Anger and resentment are easy to generate and maintain. Forgiveness requires effort and imagination. If you can imagine a future devoid of the anger, you can begin to feel forgiveness. A heart free of hurt and anger, is more open to accepting and expressing positive emotions.
That is not to say you should never feel or express anger. If you feel wronged, you will benefit from expressing your feelings – if not to the offender, then to a third party willing to listen. Getting the feelings out is called venting, as in letting off the steam, releasing the pressure. If you cannot bring yourself to speak to someone, consider writing your feelings down, or speaking into a tape or voice-recorder, (for your ears ONLY!).
The important thing is to say what you are feeling, that the emotions do not get bottled up inside. Denying a problem does not contribute to a solution. Denial only leads to repressed emotions, which contribute to physical and psychological problems in the long-run. For one thing, you risk casting yourself in the role of the victim in perpetuity. You also taint your relationships, which cannot be healthy and productive, if you refuse to let go of negative emotions. If you want to increase your odds of living a long and healthy life, you have to address each and every issue that threatens your wellbeing.
Once you have given voice to your feelings, you are ready to tackle the more difficult task of forgiveness. It all comes down to making a conscious choice to forgive. Letting go of negative emotions, is a healing process that releases internal pressures and literally lightens the mind.
If you want to live a longer, healthier life, start by embracing the concept of forgiveness. You might be surprised by how much better you will feel.
People who hold grudges are more likely to develop headaches, ulcers, and other physical ailments, due to unreleased negative emotions that can actually produce toxins within the body. New research suggests that harboring feelings of betrayal may be linked to high blood pressure, which can ultimately lead to stroke, kidney or heart failure, or even death.
It has been discovered that people living a forgiving lifestyle, also experience lower cases of heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, (to name a few) due to the lower levels of stress experienced For this conscious choosing of forgiveness over bitterness and resentment, or harbored anger.
As you can see, it is extremely beneficial to your health to reduce the number of grudges that you hold, and begin making a regular habit of forgiving people whenever possible. This is not to say that you should become a doormat, because that is not what forgiving is all about. What it does mean, is that when someone says that they are sorry, and you believe that they mean it, forgive them, both by telling them that they are forgiven, and by meaning what you say!
You will feel much less stress, have a lighter overall view on life, and feel much more content about the world around you, and, as you can see, you have a healthier life while you’re at it. Avoiding an unforgiving life, also therefore means avoiding much more than grudges – it is the emotional equivalent to an apple-a-day needed for regular health and happiness, (to keep the doctor away!).