Why Forgiveness Matters

I remember my father telling me to “let it go. Don’t hold onto it, just let it go.” I also remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how to let it go.’ When someone would do an injustice to me, I could not figure out how to move forward in the face of being hurt or disappointed. The more I would hold on to the bitter or angry feelings, the stronger they became. More pain and suffering would inevitably ensue.

sunset by the sea
sunset by the sea

What I know now is that forgiveness is the best way to effectively let go and move on.

Forgiveness is not something we do for other people. We do it for ourselves to get well, feel whole and move past the hurt.

Forgiveness is not about ignoring an injustice, glossing over wrongdoing, forgetting painful memories, condoning bad behavior, reconciling with a perpetrator or removing consequences.

The problem is it is often difficult to muster up the compassionate feelings that help in letting go of anger, hurt and resentment. It certainly helps to forgive when we know we are doing it in the name of our own well-being.

Fortunately, forgiveness can be learned. The following is an exercise that can help you develop your capacity for forgiveness. It is best to start with something small and build up to more significant disappointments or injustices.

Forgiveness Exercise 1:

  1. Take a few deep breaths
  2. Recognize your anger
  3. Reflect on the situation
  4. Allow yourself to be flexible in thought
  5. Make a conscious decision to forgive
  6. Commit to forgive and let go
  7. Take a few deep breaths
  8. Discover release from anger and resentment

This exercise takes only a few minutes and can be practiced as often as you like. You will get better at feeling the release of anger and resentment with practice.

Alan Paton, author of Cry, The Beloved Country said that, “When a deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive.”

Some of the benefits of forgiveness include:

  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduces stress and chronic pain
  • Diminishes hostility and improves anger management
  • Lowers risk of alcohol or substance abuse
  • Decreases anxiety and depression symptoms
  • Establishes healthier relationships
  • Enhances sense of well-being
  • Improves psychological health

Forgiveness Exercise 2:

Think of someone you need to forgive. Create an image and affirmation about forgiving that person. Practice your affirmation and visual image twice daily for a couple of weeks. Notice your observations.

Comment back to me: Let me know your experience with either of these two exercises.

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