The Art of Forgiveness
By Megan Morrow
Published July 13, 2017
Like many worthwhile endeavors in life, forgiveness is rarely easy.
Whether the hurt stems from an unkind word or action, a betrayal or lie, holding on to anger, grief or indignation can become a habit. While it is acceptable to feel all of those emotions and many more, when you refuse to forgive, you actually hurt yourself more than the other person. Forgiveness does not mean you are condoning what happened nor are you negating the incident – it simply means you are taking responsibility for your ultimate happiness.
People who are more forgiving may live longer, according to the Journal of Behavioral Medicine; forgiveness can also contribute to lower blood pressure, improved immune function and protection against the long-term effects of stress.
If you are holding a grudge or two, the following pointers can nudge you closer to forgiveness, compassion, and better health and wellness:
- Recognize that you have a choice. You always have a choice – forgive or not? Stay stuck or move on with life? When you recognize that forgiveness is an opportunity to do something positive for yourself and others, you decide to forgive from a position of personal power rather than shame or a negative emotion.
- Consider the pros and cons of forgiving. If you pause to add up the pros and cons of moving on, the checkmarks in the positive column are likely to exceed any reasons for unforgiveness. You may be able to mend a family rift, move forward in pursuing a dream, or simply enjoy greater happiness and content from letting go of an old wound or slight.
- Focus on the present and the future, not the past. We sometimes dwell in the past, stewing over what happened and why, turning the details over and over in our heads until we are seething with resentment. The past is over and there is a lot more joy to be found in the present. Focus on being here now, and moving towards a positive future.
- Remember that we are all doing the best we can. This can be challenging in the face of hurt or anger, but this simple reminder can help you let go.
- Understand your responsibility. While a resentment often feels one-sided, relationship or personal issues generally have two sides to the story. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective, and then take responsibility for any role you have played in the misunderstanding or challenge.
- Let go of expectations. While forgiveness may change how you feel inside, it may not outwardly alter the troubled relationship. Do not expect that the other person will change immediately, if ever. Do this for yourself and your health without expectations on the other end.
You do not have to force forgiveness and you do not have to forgive immediately. Give yourself the time and space you need to grieve, think and heal, and then try to offer compassion and some kindness to the person who has hurt you.
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The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor.
The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.