Forgiveness sounds liberating because it means to closing off old pain and making a new beginning, letting go of all that no longer serves us in any way. What could be more liberating than to leave behind long carried painful grudges and give yourself the gift of living with emotional freedom.
Forgiving is not always easy and at times more painful than the wound itself, however, is necessary if we want to live a life in peace and well-being. If we stick to old pain, unwilling or unable to forgive, we can literally become ill from grief and frustration. Sometimes the emotion is so intense and deeply felt that it becomes very difficult to forgive and break free from that feeling. In such situation, it is advisable to look for professional help to assist you in the process.
Sign of Strength
Forgiveness does not mean to erase the past or forget what has happened, nor that you approve the behaviour of the person who has harmed you in some way. Nor will it change the behaviour of someone else, as we are not entitled to impose our will on another. What it really means is making peace with the past and releasing ourselves from a painful burden, changing the way we feel and think about what happened. We also free ourselves from the power that other persons seem to have over us.
In contrast to what we often think, forgiveness is a ‘sign of strength’, rather than one of weakness. We are able to forgive people because we are strong enough to know that we all make mistakes and no one is perfect.
Benefits to our Health
When we experience a chronic feeling of anger, we put our health in jeopardy, as it influences our health and physical well-being in many ways. When we are able to forgive genuinely, we lower the stress levels in our body, which decreases our feelings of anger. Research has shown that people who are not able to forgive suffer more from sadness, anger, increased heart rate, high blood pressure and other physical and emotional discomforts, compared to people who do practice forgiveness.
Forgiveness reduces the adverse effects of non-forgiveness, such as tension, fatigue and depression. When we forgive we experience less stress and let go off the need for revenge. Simultaneously, we become less hostile or upset when in disturbing or stressful situations.
More often than not, forgiveness includes ourselves. When we have said or done something repellent to someone else, we can suffer from an unpleasant feeling that reminds us of something we did wrong. By asking for forgiveness from ourselves, and if possible from the person we’ve done wrong, we change the negative feelings which are attached to it and relieve ourselves from an unnecessary burden.
Forgiveness is the most powerful gift we can give ourselves on the path of spiritual awareness. It changes our past, present and future.