Forgiveness is not just something preached by religious and spiritual leaders anymore. Instead, it's a serious prescription for lifelong good health, based on decades of rigorous medical research. Recent studies have found that forgiving those who have wronged us lowers blood pressure, bolsters the immune system and improves sleep.
People who know how to let go of their grudges tend to be healthier and live longer and they are generally more satisfied with their lives.
They experienced far less depression, anxiety, stress, anger, and hostility.
People who cling to their resentments however, are more likely to experience severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
Despite what science now knows about forgiveness it is one of those things that is easier said than done.
Have you ever heard of those brave people on the news publicly forgiving someone who has committed a great crime against them and thought, ‘I could never do that?’
I thought that I couldn’t forgive people from my past that had hurt me. Until I learnt what forgiving actually is and how important it is in helping us live a peaceful life.
We have all been brought up to believe that if someone does you wrong then they should never be forgiven. As if forgiving someone lets them off the hook.
We believe that staying annoyed with them will heap more punishment upon them.
However, continuing to be angry with someone long after the hurt has been inflicted means you have to keep the upset alive somehow. You have to hang on to it mentally and sometimes, people hang onto hurt physically too, they store it away in their body.
Holding onto hurt will kill your enjoyment of life.
It helps to learn that forgiving someone does not condone their actions; they still have to live with the harm they have inflicted…
But the person who forgives gets the opportunity to let the situation go.
To forgive is not to forget but to stop reminding yourself of it; it’s a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance. It’s a decision to be free of the whole sorry situation.
How do you go about forgiving someone?
Decide that you have had enough of harbouring a grudge.
Realise the effect that grievance has been having on your life.
Understand that you holding onto the bitterness will do nothing to alter what has already happened.
Accept that you can’t change the person or situation but you can change how you choose to think about it.
Then find a quiet place and think of the person or situation and say inwardly, from this moment on, I refuse to let what you did hurt me anymore, I forgive you and I let it go.
You may be reading this and thinking; ‘easy for you to say’ the truth is it can take some people a long time to get to a place of forgiveness. That’s where Progressive Counselling and Coaching comes in, it gives people a chance to process the pain and hurt and to unravel all the emotional knots that have built up around it until eventually people are ready to let go and move on.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with distress from the past and wants to be free of it, please do get in touch, I’d love to see if I can help you. I am available for either 1-2-1 sessions in my Chester practise or online via Zoom or Skype.
Forgiveness is a gift you ‘give’ to yourself.