“When you forgive, you in no way change the past—but you sure do change the future.” – Bernard Meltzer
Let’s be honest. Forgiving others is hard. And asking someone for forgiveness can be even harder. But the peace of mind, happiness, and growth that follows makes those moments of vulnerability so worth it. Rather than staying trapped in a cocoon of negativity, forgiveness allows us to break free and fly.
Bitterness is bad for you.
We aren’t saying it’s easy, but there are so many mental and physical benefits that come with forgiving others. Studies have shown that holding on to resentment and bitterness can lead to elevated blood pressure and anxiety. Rather than allowing pain from your past to create pain in your future, we encourage you to let it go. Here’s how.
Let yourself process.
When learning to improve your ability to forgive, start by giving into your initial feelings of anger and frustration. This might mean punching pillows, writing rage notes in your journal, or screaming at the top of your lungs. Once you’ve got your reaction out of the way, take time to identify the actual event that needs forgiveness. Focus on the facts versus the emotions.
Remind yourself of the benefits of letting go.
Next, recognize that this process is challenging, but it’s also rewarding. Notice how holding onto a grudge is also holding you back from reaching your full potential. Get excited for the feeling of freedom and hope that is waiting for you on the other side of forgiveness.
Try to understand.
Take time to try to empathize with the person who wronged you (even if it was yourself!). Can you in any way understand where they/you were coming from? To reiterate—this doesn’t make it okay. Everyone is dealing with their own inner issues and struggles. Considering another perspective might help you in identifying your own feelings.
Forgive yourself, first.
Oftentimes, the hurt feelings created by certain interactions or behavior were not intended. And even if they were, carrying around anger just gives the person who needs forgiving more power over you. Practicing self-forgiveness and leaving your anger behind will boost your confidence. To help with this process, try reciting daily affirmations.
Enjoy the benefits.
Once you’re able to forgive more readily, you’ll notice that you feel hopeful for your future and more compassionate toward others. Practicing forgiveness repairs relationships and helps to stop a cycle of negativity.
You’ll be amazed at how much lighter you feel after letting go of built-up resentment. Through forgiveness, you’ll have the freedom to be the hero of your own life story.
The next step after forgiving others is to find ways to serve them. We explore the benefits of serving others in our recent blog, here.