Letting go of grudges that we've nursed frees us up for a happier, healthier life. Lower blood pressure, less stress and hostility, fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain, and a lowered risk of alcohol and substance abuse are some benefits of being able to forgive, according to Mayo Clinic staff chaplain, Dr. Katherine Piderman. Healthier relationships and greater spiritual and psychological well-being are further advantages that forgiveness affords.
Forgiving takes time. No one can deny that we're entitled to our anger and resentment for awhile. But, tended too long, the fires of these feelings and thoughts begin to eat us up, to hold us hostage. Most of us have been there. I sure have. The lightness that came over me when I suddenly realized that I had forgiven those who'd hurt me was amazing. I'd integrated the whole experience into my life and eliminated the power that they'd continued to hold. As Michael Bolton told me in his song, I "could fly again."
The act of forgiving does not mean that we condone the behavior that wronged us. The people who hurt us are still responsible and accountable for their actions. And, forgiving others doesn't erase the wrong-doing or minimize it. Neither does it mean that we have to reconcile with those who hurt us or even tell them we forgive them. What does change is that we make the decision to let go of the resentment and anger so we can live our own lives more fully and happily.Often, the hardest person to forgive is our self. We're afraid of hurting others again or making the same mistake. But, we need to realize that we are more than the wrong we committed or the mistake we made. Our qualities, talents, skills and capacity to love are still within our grasp. We can learn from what we did and move on.
Forgiveness does not change the past,
but it does enlarge the future.