Forgiveness and Mental Well Being

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.
Maya Angelou

Forgiveness is so important for our mental well being on many levels.  If someone has done something to hurt you, and you are harboring hate, resentment, bitterness and anger towards them, this is destructive to you mental health and ability to move on with your life.  These thoughts and feelings only harm ourselves, they do not affect the person/persons who have wronged us – those who wronged us may not even feel any remorse at all and may be just getting on with their lives oblivious – they are completely unaffected by the holding of anger and resentment of the person who was wronged.

 

 The effects of holding anger and resentment towards people are very detrimental on mental health, causing:

an increase in stress, tension and anxiety
an increase in the likelihood of mental health-related issues
a waste of energy
a reduction in the ability to think calm and positively
one to remain in a state of anger and tension
one to remain in a victim mentality

I am not pretending that forgiveness is easy, it can be a real challenge and I do believe it is a choice we can make.  Forgiveness is a continual process. You might decide to forgive someone, but then begin to feel those feelings of resentment towards them once again – you can continually choose to let these feelings go and forgive.   It may also take time for you to come to the place where you can forgive someone who has hurt you.
If you are a christian, you can surrender your feelings over to God and ask him to help you to forgive.  As christians we have a duty to forgive others because Christ has forgiven us for all our wrong doings.  God only wants the best for us – he knows that holding on to anger and resentment will only cause our lives to be hindered, and he desires us to be walking in the fullness of his love.

 

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

 

Forgiving someone isn’t about excusing their actions, or letting them get away with their actions.  By forgiving someone you do not give them a license to walk all over you. Forgiveness does not invalidate that you were hurt, and it does not minimise the impact of your hurt.  What forgiveness does is allow us to let go of hatred and any desire for revenge.  Forgiveness allows us to move on with our lives, it allows us to live free of anger, and it allows us to be free from living as a victim.

 

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
Mark Twain

If you have been hurt and wronged, it can be really helpful to acknowledge what happened to you and reaffirm that it was wrong.  Be aware and mindful of any feelings and emotions that you have about what happened – how you felt about it then and how you feel about it now.  If it is something that causes you a lot of pain and distress, it may be helpful to have someone you trust to support you through this.  You can verbalise these emotions and feelings, or write them down to give expression and release to them.  Then if you feel ready, acknowledge forgiveness, and a determination to move on with your life.

 

Forgiveness and Mental Well Being
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