The Role of Forgiveness for a Happy Life
When you’ve been wronged in your life, it’s normal to hold some degree of resentment. However, some people hold a strong resentment for many years without even realizing it could be hurting them. Forgiveness is not easy, but it is essential if the goal is to be happier and healthier. We often look at the act of forgiving as letting the person who hurt you slide; it feels like the other person “won,” but forgiving others is really for yourself. It’s not about the other person at all.
Why Holding On Can Be So Damaging
There are multiple reasons why holding on to past wrongs can be so damaging to your life and to your health. The first is that you start to become a bitter and angry person. You may even lash out at others without knowing that your negative emotions and behavior stem from the bitterness you are holding inside. Some people may be able to keep it to themselves, but there are plenty of people who let their past affect their relationships with friends and family.
Second, holding feelings of hate, anger, pain, and acting out in vengeance will only affect you at the end of the day. These emotions affect your mental health, physical health, and emotional well-being. The only thing that may quell these feelings inside you is to feel like you’ve gotten back or gotten even with the other party who hurt you, but even that may not relieve your grudge. Plus, nobody wants to become the very thing that hurt them in the first place.
Third, it can hold you back from moving forward with your life. Many people choose to adopt a victim mentality. When things in life don’t work out for them, they know that they can always fall back on this mentality to bail them out of having to take responsibility. This victim mentality can really consume you and become a part of your core identity.
How Do You Forgive and Be Happy?
It’s hard to forgive, but you have to understand that it’s purpose is to design a happier future for yourself. The key to happiness is to let go of the past and live in the present. The first step to claiming lifelong happiness is to start by exploring your emotions.
You want to acknowledge that you have been wronged and express how you feel about it. Sometimes, there are parts of you that refuse to acknowledge this pain which only makes it persist more than it should. And if you can express your pain to a close family or friend, it can help you get a better perspective.
You may even consider expressing this pain to the person that hurt you. Just be aware that the person may not respond the way you’d like. You have to remember that you are expressing your pain to release your pain, not to retaliate. You are also not seeking validation from the person nor asking the person to claim responsibility.
Second, you want to be empathetic to yourself and even consider offering compassion to the person responsible for your pain. Instead of blaming yourself for holding on to resentment, try to understand where you are coming from. Be kind to yourself and don’t be upset about the way you feel.
If you can accept these emotions, you can start to get over them one step at a time. You may even want to consider the other person’s feelings and ask yourself why they hurt you in the first place. Often people repeat what they were taught or how they were treated. While compassion is not always necessary, it might help you to understand what would make the person hurt you.
Third, move towards letting go. Take responsibility for your emotions. Understand that you are responsible for your own happiness. Recognize that holding on to the pain doesn’t do anything to the person or event that hurt you. Once you understand that holding on to grudges is an act of putting yourself in shackles, you’ll start to release the hold the past has on you.
What are the Benefits of Forgiving Others?
You can put yourself on the path of living a happy life by forgiving others. You’ll no longer be bound to these negative emotions, and you’ll be able to really live life as a positive person. Your time and energy won’t be wasted on past events that you can’t change. There really is a truth to the saying that “the best revenge is success.”
What’s more, you’ll once again be able to connect with others and reconnect with those you’ve cut ties with. Many people who are angry and take on a victim mentality end up hurting the people around them. You can take steps to mending these relationships, and it’s often the quality of your relationships that has the biggest impact on your happiness.
You’ll also finally be in charge of your life. You’ll no longer be bound to these painful emotions and the past. You’ll no longer identify as a victim. You’ll be able to create and design your own future. The shackles of being a victim will no longer hold you back from what you want in life.
There is no magic key to happiness. It’s a long process and it often can be challenging. Forgiveness is simply the first step of this process, but it is such an impactful one that can build the foundation of happiness. You cannot underestimate the power of forgiveness.
If you feel you need extra help making peace with the past, Novum Psychiatry can help. We are a Sudbury psychiatrist practice that can help with emotional issues as well as mental health issues.
Call us today at 978 252 0873 for more information about our providers.