We’ve all had people in our lives that have hurt us, deceived us, used us or maligned us, and chances are there is someone who you’ve sworn you’d never forgive. Unfortunately, research demonstrates that holding grudges is dangerous for our health. The hostilities we let occupy us will only contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety, which wreaks havoc on the body. Forgiving others can help reduce the risk of heart attack, slow the spread of cancer and impede the development of diseases such as HIV. By refusing to forgive someone, we are really only hurting ourselves.
Regardless of how painful the injury, or whether the person apologized for their transgressions, the time has come for you to take control of your life and forgive them. Here are some ways that you can lay your grievances to rest and get on with a healthy, happy life:
Blast them. Write a note, or type an email spelling out how the situation made you feel and let loose on them. Caution: don’t send it! The chance to tell them what you really think (but would never dare to say to any living creature) will give you reprieve. And knowing you’re never going to send it will empower you to be completely honest. Sending it will only create further drama and cause you more hurt. When you’re done, burn it or trash it.
Learn your lessons. Learning why you got scorched at someone else’s hands will allow you to learn from the experience and grow as a result. You can then be thankful for the learning experience.
Employ empathy. We are all victims of victims. To help us let go of vindictive feelings and animosity, we can chose to be more compassionate in our view of the person that has hurt us. What have they been through in their life that makes them the way they are? What do their patterns of behavior mean for their future? Life looks pretty good from where you are sitting now, doesn’t it?
Feel your power. You are only a victim as long as you chose to be. Acknowledge that something bad happened to you and chose how to respond to it. Check your thoughts – and embrace forgiving thoughts. It’s the most empowering thing you can do.
Forgiveness is not about getting the other person to admit that they were wrong, rather it is a method for each of us to reclaim our health and wellbeing, and decide that we don’t need to live in the unthinkable past any longer.