The act of forgiving benefits our well-being and peace of mind. There is a saying, “Holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” When we don’t forgive, we’re not hurting the person who we feel wronged us; rather, we’re harming ourselves.
The common misconception about forgiveness is that the perpetrator must earn it back by acknowledging their transgression. It’s great when the other person atones for their actions, but it’s not realistic to expect this all the time. This way of thinking puts our happiness and wellbeing in the hands of another.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we’re okay with ill treatment or wrongdoings that we incur. It means we are strong enough to learn from the situation and move on having gained wisdom. Forgiveness is how we free ourselves and make peace with the pain we feel. Not forgiving has negative consequences for our overall health and wellbeing. It creates disharmony that causes emotional upset and when it’s prolonged, it can create bitterness and even physical illness.
When we forgive and move on, it helps us build healthier relationships with others and gives us a healthier sense of self. Forgiveness also helps us live in the moment and create greater life fulfillment. It frees us from the pain of our past and is linked in many ways to compassion. Compassion is driven by the desire to stop the suffering of others. Through compassion, we can both forgive ourselves and others. In order to forgive and show compassion to others, we must be able to give both to ourselves first.
Self-forgiveness allows us to separate who we are—our character—from our mistakes. If you find yourself ruminating on negative feelings, acknowledge those feelings without judging them or yourself. Accept what you did, apologize if you caused someone harm, and focus on what you learned from the experience. This process helps us create new behaviors for better outcomes in our life.
At Acacia Creek, a Masterpiece Living Certified Center for Successful Aging, and retirement community, we believe that forgiveness is an important part of all wellness categories—intellectual, social, physical, and purposeful.
Practicing true forgiveness and compassion requires patience, practice, and the willingness to shift our thinking. With practice, we can let go of our injured feelings that keep us living in the past. Forgiveness and compassion allow for new beginnings and growth. Self-forgiveness is something we learn to do and must start with self-compassion. It’s much easier to forgive others when we learn self-forgiveness. This can be challenging, but it’s doable. Here are some tips to start practicing self-forgiveness:
- Be kind to yourself.
- Ask for help.
- Understand your feelings, but understand they aren’t facts.
- When we are stressed, we get busy and create distractions that don’t allow us to deal what’s really going on within.
Remember, things get better bit by bit. Every small step you take, is a step closer to living your best life.
Successful Aging Coach