How to Forgive – Learning the Art of Forgiveness
Learning How to Forgive
All people are hurt in one way or another at some point in their lives and need to learn how to forgive. It’s an undeniable fact; although, on certain occasions of conflict between two or more people, a significant amount of pain can be inflicted (whether emotional or physical, or both). Such a conflict can bring about the issue of forgiveness.
In order to learn how to forgive, one must understand the true connotation of forgiveness.
- What is the act of forgiveness?
- Are there legitimate reasons to forgive others?
- How to forgive?
Below is information on these topics, in addition to strategies one should use when following the path of forgiveness and where to learn more.
What does it mean to truly forgive?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of forgiveness is simple, “to stop feeling anger (toward someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)”.
It certainly sounds simple; however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some psychologists define forgiveness as an intended, cognizant choice to absolve feelings of animosity and anger toward an individual who caused them harm.
Indeed, forgiveness is a choice, and a choice worth making-not just for the person who caused the harm, but more so for the person attempting to forgive.
It is the utmost way to take care of oneself after being wronged.
Why should a person learn how to forgive, what is the benefit?
It has been proven that a healthy emotional state and mind equate to a more positive physical state.
Anger and hostility are key emotions one experiences when they have been wronged and haven’t yet forgiven the wrongdoer.
In one prominent research study, it was found that individuals that had frequent bouts of hostility or anger were 19% more likely to develop heart disease than people who did not have frequent anger and hostility.
Moreover, it has been found that experiencing feelings of anger and hostility cause the body to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode, where adrenaline and other stress-inducing hormones quicken the heart rate and breathing.
If one is holding onto a grudge or anger towards a person they haven’t forgiven, than it is very likely they will replay the memory of being hurt often and cause their own body to frequently go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. After several instances of this, the walls of artery show wear and tear.
Valuable strategies on how to forgive:
1. Willingness and Acknowledgement:
First and foremost a person must be willing to attempt forgiveness. A psychotherapist named Andrea Brandt PhD MFT explains one part of how to forgive very clearly when she says, “Forgiveness requires feeling willing to forgive.”
Acknowledgement of the pain and hurt they feel is crucial as well. The painful experience must be deeply considered and thoroughly thought through.
Moreover, one should pay close attention to whether or not they grew as a person in regard to this arduous encounter, and if they learned anything beneficial from it about themselves and the one that hurt them.
Andrea Brandt PhD M.F.T. also explains this important fact about learning how to forgive, “Do not attempt to forgive someone before you have identified, fully felt, expressed, and released your anger and pain.”
2. Understanding what forgiveness is not:
There are numerous misconceptions in relation to how to forgive.
There is the commonly used phrase ‘forgive and forget’. This is most certainly not the case.
Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened.
A person will always remember it, what’s most essential is accepting what happened and moving forward-understanding that this harrowing experience doesn’t define them as a person.
Another everyday myth about forgiveness is that it shows a sign of weakness to forgive others who have done a severe wrong.
Contrary to popular opinion, forgiveness take incredible courage and strength of character, while at the same time improving the state ones mental and physical health.
Lastly, forgiving a person doesn’t condone what they did, and doesn’t equate to a obligation to continue a relationship with the person who hurt them.
3. Look at the issue from another perspective:
Every person in the world makes mistakes, it’s how lessons are learned, certain individuals make substantial mistakes that cause a large amount of pain for the person that they hurt.
Not only did they hurt someone by making this mistake, but they hurt themselves at the same time, which in turn causes them self-hatred and guilt.
When learning how to forgive, it’s essential to understand why the person did it in the first place and to see their side of the problem.
In that way, one can develop a higher form of clarity and even experience a feeling of compassion for the one they may forgive.
4. Talk about it as much as possible:
Talking out a problem has a myriad of positive aspects. A person can achieve clarity about their negative feelings caused by unforgiving feelings toward a person by talking about it out loud to a friend and writing it down in a journal.
Writing down feelings has helped numerous individuals cope with their negative feelings.
Cognitive therapy is another way to talk about a problem to help understand how to forgive and feel that it’s resolved, as well as developing coping mechanisms to help when overcoming the overwhelming anger one may experience when faced with attempting to learn how to forgive, in addition to the depression they may feel because of it.
How to Forgive – Conclusion
The fact of the matter is not attempting to learn how to forgive others only causes more hurt and pain in the long-term for everyone involved, especially the person who was originally harmed.
Harboring these feelings of resentment toward the one who caused harm doesn’t provide any reasonable amount of comfort or benefit.
The most crucial point is to gain the wisdom needed to recognize that forgiveness is a way to heal, and can provide peace of mind.
With increasing relevant information being found on the necessity of mental well being being directly linked to physical well being, it is of utmost importance to move forward from anger and take advantage of the how to forgive strategies explained here in this article.
Forgiveness- it’s the best gift a person can give to themselves and a vital component to general well being.
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