Why should we forgive? Forgiveness is more about you than the other person. It is a conscious decision one makes to ‘let go of hurt’ and move on, but not necessarily forget (this depends on the severity of the action taken against you). Some studies have found that those who forgive “had less anger, less stress, less rumination and lowered reactivity in comparison to those who held onto their anger and pain” . Harris, A. H., Luskin, F.M., Benisovich, S.V., Standard, S., & Thoresen, C. (2001). Effects of Group Forgiveness Intervention on Perceived Stress, State and Trait, Anger, Symptoms of Stress, Self-Reported Health and Forgiveness. Journal of Clinical Psychology 62 (6), 715-733.
Forgiveness does not always involve an outward action toward the one who hurt you; sometimes the other person in the event is no longer here or is not accessible. Rather, forgiveness might include a heartfelt conversation with yourself about your feelings of resentment/anger, a reflection on the specific experience, a willingness to mentally forgive the person and then sticking with that forgiveness and not slipping back into the hurt. This is not easy to do, especially for the big things that really wound us to the core. True forgiveness may take several attempts for the steps to be effective. Patience is a virtue in this instance for sure.
I think Dr. Allen Hunt, a nationally known author and speaker, says it quite well. “Forgiveness produces healing and a path forward. The key to forgiveness opens the door to a new future”, from his book Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody.
Who do you need to forgive? Can you take a step forward today in the process so that you can begin the healing process?