What is forgiveness?
Making mistakes knowingly or unknowingly is a part of human nature. Either because of mistakes from our or the others’ side, most relationships we hold are ruined. It is only through the act of forgiveness that one can let go of negative feelings and thoughts of anger, revenge, bitterness and connect with others with happiness and peace.
One’s capacity to forgive truly depends on their nature however, studies reveal that forgiveness results in changes in the offender’s and/or victim’s behaviour, emotional expressions and wilful decision.
Ways to plant and stem forgiveness in your life
- Forgive oneself: It is very important to forgive yourself for the reasons:
- To make sure self-blame is not getting in the way of one’s ability to forgive
- To be confident of carrying the important emotional tools of self-forgiveness and self-compassion before attempting to forgive others.
- Empathize with one another by reflecting on yourself: Placing oneself emotionally in the other’s shoes convinces one very well on why they do not need to have second thoughts of forgiving the other. For example, suppose you have had situations when anger has gone out of your control, and you were really devastated. Lately, you see one of your friends similarly exhibiting the same emotions to you for some or no reason at all. This allows you to quit anger which may build in you, remember how you felt and how the anger affected you leading you to forgive the other.
- When forgiving, do it from deep within you: Simply forgiving others for the sake of the beliefs you hold or because you feel there is no other alternative may make you feel fine. Studies over the years found that one feels better and can prepare themselves to resume relationships when they forgive based on understanding that perfection exists in nobody, even when the other has not apologized.
- Let go of expectations: Forgiveness from your side may not necessarily invite forgiveness from the other side or get things (relationships) straight. So, before or while forgiving it is best to not expect either of these, as it reduces or elicits the chances of making you feel disappointed or disturbed.
Benefits of instilling the attitude of forgiveness
- Helps oneself to heal: Mastering oneself to let go of emotional blocks or burdens enables one to experience peace and start moving away from negative emotions of anger, revenge, resentment etc., before they seep into your inner self.
- Restore or improve relationships: Forgiveness helps you feel connected not just to the people one forgives but to all. Additionally, along with forgiveness, feelings of kindness, compassion, trust etc., foster one to restore positive thinking and build new relationships or modify existing relations into meaningful ones.
- Health benefits: Extensive studies have shown that by practising the act of forgiveness, one can do a big favour to his/her health of experiencing positive (emotional and physical) health outcome such as:
- Reduced stress, anxiety and blood pressure
- Better sleep, improved self-esteem and higher life satisfaction
- Helps one to reconcile: As humans we all make mistakes. When hurt by dear ones, forgiving them opens the door to repair the relationship. In most cases, it is the act of forgiveness that helps the other realize the pain or hurt they caused you. Even when aware that forgiveness may not lead you to have the same relationship or mend it immediately, forgiveness is definitely a good start.
Besides these, studies have also found more interesting benefits of forgiving:
- Greater sense of hope and positive thoughts
- Matured decision-making and problem-solving skills
- Strengthened spirituality beliefs
- Increased capacity for managing conflicts
- Heightened ability to cope with a stressful situation and gain relief