"It is by forgiving that one is forgiven."
Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of resentments and/or thoughts of revenge. Whatever action initially caused suffering or pain may always be a part of your life, but practicing forgiveness may lessen that pain and allow you to focus on the better parts of your life.
Whether we are forgiving others or ourselves, forgiveness is a path to freedom; freedom from negative emotions, freedom from negative patterns. Forgiveness frees us to live, happy and healthy, in the present.
What Is Forgiveness?
To forgive is to stop being angry or resentful toward the offender. Forgiveness does not mean that the offender was justified by hurting you, nor does it minimize or excuse their actions: you can practice forgiveness without excusing the offender's actions or words.
Why Should We Forgive?
Holding on to anger and resentment can contribute to bitterness, depression, a sense of injustice in the world, and anxiety. Resentments detract from a sense of spiritual well-being by causing us to focus on negative things.
Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, nor does it require reconciliation. Forgiving also does not mean that you condone the behavior or will tolerate similar behavior from others in the future. Forgiving can help loosen the grip of the offense over you, and can help you find peace and move on with your life.
When you forgive someone, you are practicing compassion and kindness, both to the transgressor and yourself.
What Are The Benefits of Forgiveness?
Forgiveness can reduce stress and lead to a greater sense of well-being. Forgiveness can also aid in maintaining healthier relationships and breaking unhealthy patterns. A greater sense of well-being can improve one’s physical self and health.
- Reduces tension
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Leads to better rest/sleep
- Less stress
- Less anger
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Lowers depression
- Lowers anxiety
- Reduces chronic pain
- Lowers risks for alcoholism and substance abuse
What Happens When We Do Not Forgive:
When we do not forgive ourselves or others, we damage ourselves by bringing bitterness and anger into all relationships and new experiences. Our lives may become so entrenched in our grudges that we cannot enjoy the moment, leading to depression and anxiety. We may feel our lives lack meaning or purpose and we may lose our connectedness to others.
How Do We Forgive?
Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. We may begin the process of forgiveness by recognizing its value and importance.
Remember the facts of the situation that has caused a grudge, your reactions, and how that has affected every aspect of your life.
When ready, actively make the choice to forgive the person - this does not mean you must excuse their behavior.
Step away from the role of victim and you will release the control and power the offender or situation has held over you.
When you move away from being a victim, you will no longer define yourself through past hurts.
What If I Cannot Forgive Someone?
Forgiveness is an extremely challenging thing to do - made worse when the offender will not admit any wrongdoing or sorrow over the situation. Meditate, write an entry for The Band, seek the advice of someone you find to be a good confidante or compassionate, speak with a therapist or an unbiased family member or friend.
Try to remember that you've been forgiven for wrongdoing in the past as well. Forgiveness may increase feelings of well-being, integrity, and peace.
Do I Have To Reconcile With Someone I've Forgiven?
In some cases, forgiving the offender may mend the relationship, however this isn't always the case. Reconciliation may be an impossibility if the offending party has died or is unwilling to speak with you.
Other times - such as in the event of an attack or rape - reconciliation isn't appropriate.
Whether or not reconciliation is possible, forgiveness always is.
I'm The One Who Needs Forgiveness:
If you are the person who needs forgiveness, think about admitting your wrongdoing to the victim, sincerely apology and specifically ask for forgiveness. Do this without making excuses or justifying your behavior or actions.
You cannot force another to forgive you - others must come to forgiveness on their own terms.
Simply acknowledge your faults, admit your mistakes to the offendee and learn from the experience. Make the choice to treat others with compassion and love.
Sometimes, the anger or resentment we feel is not directed at someone or something else; it is directed at ourselves.
When we refuse to forgive ourselves for our past actions, we breed:
- Guilt (feeling culpable for our actions)
- Shame (feeling badly about one’s self)
- Low self-esteem
When we forgive ourselves for past mistakes, we begin the process of self-acceptance and self-love.
Related Resource Pages on Band Back Together
A Campaign for Forgiveness Research - scientific studies of forgiveness in a number of populations. Fascinating read.
The Forgiveness Project - is a UK-based charitable organization which explores forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution through real-life human experience.
Forgiveness: A Time To Love & A Time To Hate - PBS film by acclaimed writ er, producer and director Helen Whitney that explores a compelling range of stories, from personal betrayal to global reconciliation after genocide.