The Healing Power of Forgiveness: Tips for Letting Go of Anger and Moving Forward
Anger, fear, hostility, bitterness, rage, and resentment, we have all experienced these emotions towards someone or sometimes even towards our loved ones. These negative emotions are called “hot emotions,” and they fuel an unforgiving spirit that can cause harm to our mental and physical health.
When we are hurt or betrayed, our angry feelings don’t go away overnight. It can take months, even years, to heal the wounds caused by someone’s actions. However, holding onto anger and resentment towards someone only causes stress, high blood pressure, and a whole host of other problems. If you find yourself still boiling with anger at the mention of someone’s name, it might be time to consider the “F” word – forgiveness.
But how do we forgive someone who has hurt us so deeply? How do we let go of the anger and resentment that we feel and move forward towards healing? In this article, we will discuss what forgiveness is and isn’t, and share some tips to help you on your journey towards forgiveness.
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is not forgetting, denying, or condoning the hurtful actions of someone. Instead, forgiveness is a means of release for the person holding the resentment and anger towards the other person- you. Forgiveness is for your benefit; it allows you to let go of the negative emotions and move forward towards healing. Forgiveness isn’t saying that what the other person did was okay.
The Steps to Forgiveness
1. Make a List
The first step towards forgiveness is to take an account of the offense. Sit down with a piece of paper and make three columns. Write the offending person’s name at the top of the page. In the first column, write down the event that occurred that caused you pain. In the second column, write down how you felt about it and how it affected you negatively. In the last column, write down what you had hoped for or expected from that person. This will translate into your loss.
Here’s an example: If your husband was unfaithful, the event goes into the first column. The emotions that you feel such as anger, hurt, and rejection go into the second column. The beliefs that you came to believe about yourself such as “I’m not good enough” and “I’m unlovable” go into the third column. And in the last column, you list the things you lost because of the affair such as trust, identity, self-esteem, and hope.
2. Stop Ruminating
Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself. Rumination creates more anxiety and depression, and it won’t help you. Turning things over and over in your mind only keeps you stuck. Choose to focus intentionally on the Scriptural truths about forgiveness. It’s essential to shift your focus from the hurtful thing towards forgiving the person who hurt you.
3. Take a Risk
Even if you don’t feel like forgiving, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You may never feel like forgiving someone who has harmed you deeply. But what is the best response you can make to address the hurts and losses you will incur in life? The answer is to give the altruistic gift of forgiveness. Taking a risk to forgive someone who has hurt you can remove a huge weight off your shoulders and probably add a few years to your life too.
Medical studies have found that people who have forgiven others for a major transgression have lower blood pressure and heart rates when compared to those who have not forgiven.
4. Restoration is Different than Reconciliation
Reconciliation takes two people, you and the person who offended you. When the offender comes to you, the offended, you have to decide if you will grant forgiveness. That doesn’t mean you want to be restored in a relationship with the person. The decision for restoration means that you and the other person mutually decide what the nature of the relationship will be as you move forward. Boundaries may need to be drawn or the relationship may need to be terminated.
Forgiveness starts with a decision of the will but is born out of the emotions. It is a process that may take weeks, months or even years. Allow yourself time and space to work through the process, but remember forgiveness is for your benefit. Start today and give yourself the gift of forgiveness.
Have you ever forgiven someone? If so, what were the long-term benefits? If not, what’s hindering you? Let us know in the comments below.