By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Forgiveness means different things to different people. Generally, however, it involves a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.
The act that hurt or offended you might always be with you, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help free you from the control of the person who harmed you.
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Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life. Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind.
Forgiveness can lead to:. Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. Some people are naturally more forgiving than others. But even if you're a grudge holder, almost anyone can learn to be more forgiving.
Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you might:. As you let go of grudges, you'll no longer define your life by how you've been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding. Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if the person who's hurt you doesn't admit wrong.
If you find yourself stuck:. If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation.
Definition for Forgiveness
This isn't always the case, however. Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn't. Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn't the point of forgiveness.
Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life. The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you've done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly. If you're truly sorry for something you've said or done, consider admitting it to those you've harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can't force someone to forgive you.
On a snowy winter day in the dark month of January, I got hit by a car.
My left leg was immediately amputated. A darkness started growing in my seventeen-year-old heart that day. Because of Harvey, I walked in pain. Because of Harvey, I lost my confidence as an attractive woman. He never looked me in the eye.
Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness - Mayo Clinic
In fact, Harvey never apologized to me. I tried to pretend that I was as capable as two-legged people. I learned how to ski, kayak, rock climb, backpack, scuba dive, and sky dive. I spent just as much energy stuffing my anger, depression, and grief. I was terrified that, if given half a chance, they would eat me alive. I felt like two women. The one the world saw was capable, strong, independent, and inspirational.
The other woman I reserved for myself. She was sad, insecure, and boiling with anger. During my twenties, I had three significant romantic relationships. Although each one of those men told me how amazing I was and how much they loved me, none of them wanted to marry me. I assumed it was because of my leg.
When I was truly honest with myself, I had a vague understanding that my depression and anger , which I usually expressed inappropriately, could have contributed to my failed relationships. I decided it was time for counseling. Therapy was a time for me to finally grieve. I realized how fear controlled me and how post-traumatic stress dictated my life. I started to understand the magnitude of my negative feelings—toward the Universe, toward life, and toward Harvey. Over many months, I learned appropriate ways to express sadness, anger, and resentment.
Actually, I became alive when I started to truly feel them. On the fifteenth anniversary of the accident, I was alone in my apartment, nursing my depression with some wine.
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My thoughts turned to Harvey. Did he know what today was? Does he remember me? Then I was struck by a bolt of brilliance. I jumped up off the couch, found his number, and dialed. The phone rang once. I ended up leaving a message. At work the next day I could hardly concentrate, and by the time I got home from work, I was a bundle of nerves. He thought about me all the time? In preparation for our visit, I spent a number of sessions with my therapist preparing to give Harvey a verbal lashing.
I was ready to shame him for what he had done to me. When the day finally came, Harvey and I saw each other across the hotel lobby. Tears welled up in his eyes as he walked toward me. You want me to give you a hug? The nice girl in me gave him a hug. During the four hours we spent together, instead of screaming at him for everything he had taken from me, I listened. I heard how the accident happened from his perspective—and he heard how it happened from mine.
Resentment And Forgiveness -- The Power Of Release To Revitalize Your Life And Work
I listened as he talked about how his life was impacted by the accident. He was just a twenty-one-year-old married guy at the time of the accident. Afterward, anytime he saw someone who reminded him of me, he broke down and cried—or became mean. His marriage suffered; he and his wife eventually divorced. When I made the choice to let go of the past and forgive Harvey, I felt empowered.
Harvey and I saw each other a year later when I was visiting his town for a conference.
Painful Experiences are Opportunities for Growth
While at dinner, instead of re-hashing the accident again, we talked about our lives. We came to the table ready to pick each other up off that roadway that had held us captive for so long. We married a year later and soon started our family.