Forgiveness is more than accepting someone’s apology. It’s truly letting go of that wronged feeling you’ve been holding on to. You know – that churning in your stomach, muscles tensed and anger-clouded mind feeling.
Practicing true forgiveness is necessary for good health. It can lower blood pressure, protect against negative effects on mental health and help you sleep better. It plainly leads to a happier and healthier you.
All of us have experienced hurt and pain, and we’ll never be immune to it. But rather than holding grudges against those who have wronged you, you can be optimistic, let go and forgive. Here are a few ways to do it.
Tip 1: Don’t suppress your emotions
Never bottle up your emotions. You may know from personal experience that when you do, you eventually explode on the person you’re upset with or worse – a poor bystander. It happens to the best of us. I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of this and neither side feels great. My emotions usually manifest in tears at an inopportune moment. And that’s probably more uncomfortable than owning my emotions.
Let yourself recognize and address the emotions you feel—sadness, anger, etc.—but don’t dwell on these emotions. It’s normal and good for you to acknowledge the hurt you feel, and the best way to do that is to think through your feelings as you write them down. Or go find some way to release those emotions. Sometimes a little kickboxing can do the trick!
Tip 2: Don’t vent to someone too soon
If shortly after you’ve had a bad experience you go and tell all the horrible details to your best friend, the emotions you’ve been feeling will build up even more than when you were in the moment. It’ll make the situation seem more intense than it actually is. It’s OK to talk to someone about your feelings. But before you do, get yourself calm and process what happened in your own mind.
Tip 3: Choose to forgive and commit to true forgiveness
Forgiveness is a therapeutic experience that lets you mentally, emotionally and physically let go. Holding a grudge and not forgiving someone hurts you, not the person you’re holding a grudge against. If you want to feel complete peace, choose to forgive and move on, rather than dwelling on what happened or what was said, which makes the situation harder to get over. You don’t even have to go to the person and say “I forgive you.” But rather, move on. Treat them as well as you’ve treated them before. And move forward.
Tip 4: Learn from the positive
Something positive comes out of every negative situation you face. So whatever has happened or will happen to you that isn’t the happiest of situations, turn it into a learning experience. Take the positive by learning something about yourself or the other person involved. Walking away with a greater understanding will help you let go of the problem and not begrudge the person who wronged you.
It’s not just about being a Pollyanna and trying to find the bright side. When we truly forgive, we don’t look back on the experience in a negative light. In fact, I often feel that I look back on the memory with a little more kindness to the person who had originally offended me.
It’s not always easy to forgive. We expect perfection from ourselves and others and probably unjustly so. But if we can truly learn to forgive, we might actually be happier. Christ said, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” It’s a commandment that we have to figure out how to implement every day.