Let’s be honest, how many times have we claimed forgiveness on someone but still hold small, bitter grudges? “Forgive and forget” – a phrase coined many years ago that means to, well, forgive and forget whatever dishonorable thing a particular person has said or done to you in order to continue the relationship you’ve always had. It’s no secret it almost always seems as if forgiveness were “mission impossible.” If this happens to be your case, my piece of advice is: don’t forgive a person for them, forgive them for you. Holding grudges has many negative effects. By offering forgiveness you can do yourself a huge favor.
There is a great amount of power that comes with forgiveness. Although it is an undeniably tough thing to actually do, it can also be incredibly cathartic. I have found that there are three stages to forgiveness:
- The initial feeling of vulnerability: betrayal/loss/pain, the splurge of reactive emotions: passive aggressive or aggressive attitudes that derive from anger and/or denial, etc.
- Acceptance of the situation which can terminate or pause the relationship as you begin to assess the facts and multiple objective points of views.
- And finally, permanently moving on with or without that person in your life with forgiveness or tightly held grudges.
Keep in mind that forgiveness does not mean that the person needs to continue to be in your life. It is possible to forgive a person but respectfully reestablish the bounds of the relationship by talking out what the expectations were, what has been failed to be done, and how to improve it or help the person understand that in order for you to forgive them, the relationship must come to an end. “Isn’t that not forgiveness?” I think to myself. But forgiveness comes in many forms. It comes through love, through helplessness, and through peace.
Peace of mind is something that comes with forgiveness. If you have truly forgiven the person, you will feel a sense of serenity and wholeness. And it is perfectly acceptable if this is a process that may take you time – a week, a month, or even a year. According to experts, forgiveness can bring you lower blood pressure, increase spirituality, a positive mindset, altruistic behaviors, increase your immune system, and relieve stress. Overall, it is a big plus for your physical and psychological self. Take the time you need to harmonize yourself with reality and let go. This all begins with acceptance of the truth of the situation and essentially, the world. Life requires we climb impossible mountains, cross never ending misty rivers, and survive the most catastrophic storms. As corny as this may sound, you must remember that the universe will only give you what it knows you can handle.
People make mistakes – you and I both included – and sometimes we simply need to let go of the things in the past, the things that we cannot control. Holding these grudges are only doing us harm and the only way to feel at peace and grow from the experiences we encounter is to accept the sitution and move on. Although difficult, forgiveness is possible. I encourage you to at least try and to at least take the first few steps of courage in your journey of forgiveness, because you don’t know just how far even that can take you.