Forgiving is hard, but it’s healthy.
Set yourself free.
Let bygones be bygones. Forget and move on. Kiss and make up.
However, forgiving is easier said than done.
Most people believe that forgiveness means condoning an event. But it’s not.
Blame ties us to the past and makes our heart and mind smaller — both literally and metaphorically.
Forgiving, on the other hand, means realizing that resentment and hatred add more pain.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting.
It’s not accepting, justifying or overlooking an event either.
It’s choosing to let go of resentment or the need for revenge — we eliminate the suffering, not the wrongdoing.
The offender might not deserve your pardon, but you deserve to be at peace.
When you forgive, you set yourself free.
Also, science has confirmed that forgiving is good for your health.
An fMRI study by Italian researcher, Dr Pietro Pietrini, showed that anger and vengeance inhibited rational thinking.
Conversely, the tasks involved in the process of forgiveness activate the areas of our brain linked to problem-solving, morality, empathy, and cognitive control of emotions.
You can’t change the past. There’s nothing you can do to remove the harm others might have caused you.
However, not forgiving damages our mood — we see our lives through a lens of vengeance, hostility, resentment, anger, and sadness.
It is easier said though because the need for taking revenge is hardwired in our system.
In the past, that’s how we prevented other people from causing us harm.
Revenge activates the same brain area than our desire for chocolate or sex — that’s why it tastes sweet.
However, forgiveness is equally innate — reconciling after a fight is something most mammals do, not just humans.
Reconciliation has an upside too.
Research by the Stanford Forgiveness Project shows that forgiving elevates our mood and increases optimism.
By Forgiving, You Set Yourself Free
Unforgiveness is engrained on blame — we let a past event define our present.
Blaming is a way of running away from the truth.
By not forgiving, we focus on the perpetrator instead of facing the event.
We get stuck feeling a victim rather than accepting what happened and moving on.
I’ve learned through time and experience that resentment gets us nowhere.
I usually don’t hold a grudge on people — I don’t want to be a prisoner of someone else’s behaviour.
Researching for this article, I stumbled upon some powerful human stories.
Some people went through the hardest experiences you can imagine.
Yet, they were not only able to forgive but actually came in good terms with their wrongdoers.
Eva Kor, an Auschwitz survivor who publicly forgave the perpetrators who killed her parents as well as two older sisters at the camp.
Eva even travelled to Germany and embraced Oskar Gröning, one of the Auschwitz officials.
Phyllis Rodriguez’ son was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.
Aicha El-Wafi’s son was convicted of a role in those attacks and is serving a life sentence.
In hoping to find peace, these two moms have formed a powerful friendship born of unthinkable losses.
Unforgiveness is fueled by rumination — we keep rehashing sad experiences.
We get stuck on delated emotions.
Resentment, hatred, hostility, fear, and anger guides our lives.
Blame turns us into a victim — we feel helpless.
If people who went through tragedies, as described above, forgave their offenders, why can’t we?
Empathizing with the offender is good for you.
It helps you repair the relationship with the event — though that doesn’t mean rebuilding the bond with that person.
Forgiving is an act of courage.
Like any behaviour change, it requires a true commitment to succeed.
The explicit decision to forgive someone is a critical step to move toward overcoming negative feelings.
Forgiveness sets you free from the past — you don’t just make peace with the offender, you are at peace.