Forgiving is an investment in one’s mental health; it builds character, it builds bridges, not walls, and brings the community up as a whole. Therefore, it is especially vital to teach children from a young age how to forgive and be tolerant of people.
There are even National Schools of Character which are selected by the Character Education Partnership in Washington, D.C. This acknowledgment recognizes K-12 schools that demonstrate exemplary programs that encourage the social and ethical development of their students while maintaining strong academic standards.
Practicing forgiveness can have powerful health benefits. For example, many studies show forgiveness being associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility, reduced substance abuse; higher self-esteem; and greater life satisfaction.
If we choose to forgive, we immediately open possibilities for healthier relationships and somehow find it easier to cope with stress and manage our emotions more constructively.
Forgiveness is a choice that’s not always an easy choice, however it is usually worth it. No one is suggesting that we forget what happened or excuse the person’s behavior but instead, simply choose to let go of any anger, resentment, or bitterness and then serenely go on with your life.
Here are some tips to practice forgiveness:
- Remember to acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to grieve. It is okay to be angry, hurt, or sad. Be careful to not pretend that everything is alright when it’s not.
- Identify the hurt abd ask yourself; What exactly are you holding onto? Why is it so difficult to let go?
- Practice a forgiving attitude;”act as if”. Imagine the situation from the other perspective. Consider “maybe” they are going through a difficult time themselves. And maybe, if we practice this, we just might be able to “see” our part in the whole scenario.
- Try to really practice kindness and compassion for you and them.
- Make the choice to let go of any anger or resentment.
- Practice making a conscious effort to let go of the hurt even though it may take time, it’s essential to keep working at it.
- Remember to focus on the present rather instead of dwelling on the past.
- Set boundaries as needed. Forgiving someone does not mean you continue allowing them to hurt you but about setting necessary boundaries and taking care of yourself first and foremost.
Forgiveness in self-care
Forgiveness is an integral tool in self-care and personal transformation. With that transformation, we might come to understand that we, too, played a part in the “hurting.” Self-discovery and seeing how we participated opens up much more growth, empathy, and compassion for ourselves and others. And directly from this space of deep understanding, forgiveness will come because we can see the humanity in all those involved. We also find it easier to cope with stress and manage our emotions more constructively.
A friend sent me this quote recently after I was inquiring about forgiveness:
“Forgiveness is not a matter of exonerating people who have hurt you. They may not deserve exoneration. Forgiveness means cleansing your soul of the bitterness of ‘what might have been, ‘‘what should have been’ and “what didn’t have to happen’. Someone has defined forgiveness as ‘giving up all hope of having a better past’. What’s past is past, and there is little to be gained by dwelling on it. There are perhaps no sadder people than those who have a grievance against a world because of something that happened years ago and have let that memory sour their view of life ever since.” – Rabbi Harold S Kushner
What are the powers of forgiveness?
Forgiveness can be challenging, but it is always worth it. When we choose to forgive, we invest in our community, our mental health, our character, and we create bridges instead of walls. In short, forgiveness can help bring peace and understanding to our relationships, both with ourselves and others. So, choose to forgive today and reap the benefits of a life with less stress and more joy!