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Forgiveness…How It Can Be Good For You

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” (-Mahatma Ghandi)

The word “forgiveness” means different things to different people. Forgiving ourselves or others is often hard to do because emotions such as fear, anger, and resentment get in the way. Once we do forgive, these emotions often dissipate.
Research shows that forgiveness may be good for our health. Some of life’s events are harder to get past than others. Forgiving does not mean forgetting or condoning. It means dealing with hurt in a way that increases understanding, and acceptance.

Forgiveness means to grant pardon without resentment. It is experienced intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Forgiveness is a key to happiness and well-being, because it releases the anger, hurt, bitterness, pain, fear and even sometimes the illnesses that we carry around.

I often work with many of my clients who are struggling with forgiveness. It’s important to remember that forgiveness can help release you from the past, which may be holding you back. Things that happened in the past are always going to be there…these events can’t be changed. A large part of healing is making some degree of peace with the past…those situations, people and events that might still be staying with you today.

When you continue to take the energy to resent someone and hold on to past pain, you keep yourself tied to that person. Hate, resentment and anger bind us to other people just as powerfully and forcefully as does love. Many believe that when you can’t forgive, you can’t move on to the business of loving…that resentment can act as a roadblock to love.
Often times, people don’t want to forgive because at that point, they will not have anyone to blame anymore.Forgiveness helps you to take back your personal power, because when you feel wronged, you act like a victim. If you blame someone else, therefore, you won’t work through your own emotions and issues, and as a result, you’ll remain hurt and angry. Some people thus prefer to feel powerless and victim-like, and to hold on to their blame.

Blaming someone else is a way for us to avoid having to do anything about a problem. I often explain the following dilemma to many of my clients who are having trouble seeing how a lack of forgiveness is affecting them: when you are angry at another person, your anger really doesn’t hurt them directly, instead it hurts YOU. It is your body that feels on edge and tense. It is your peace of mind that is altered. It is your consciousness that is being affected.
As a result, not forgiving can be seen as ultimately self-defeating in some ways.

One of the keys to forgiveness is about developing empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another), which means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and experiencing what must have been going on for them. It means looking at things from a different perspective.

It is important to remember that forgiveness does not sanction someone else’s behavior. It is about letting go, no longer carrying the pain and hurt around with you, and no longer needing to get even.

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