What Are The Benefits Of Forgiveness And How To Cultivate It?
Published on 27th July, 2023
Forgiving someone is easier said than done, especially when they have deeply hurt you, caused you harm, or made you feel upset and disappointed. Sometimes, even when your initial feelings of hurt and anger are subdued, you might continue to dwell on the negative feelings brought about by someone else's wrongdoings. We remember past transgressions and injustice as it helps to protect us from being vulnerable of getting hurt again. Hence, it is normal to struggle with forgiving someone, especially if they show no remorse for hurting your feelings.
However, holding onto pain, anger, and resentment can harm your mental health. By embracing forgiveness, you can achieve peace of mind, as well as improve your physical and emotional well-being.
Read on to learn the benefits of forgiveness and how to cultivate the habit of forgiveness.
The benefits of forgiveness
1. Less rumination about the past
Much like moving on from past regrets, letting go of grudges can relieve you of your negative thoughts and emotions, which can harm your mental well-being. Forgiveness allows you to break free from the cycle of negativity and find peace within yourself. When you forgive, you let go of the past and focus on the present, which can bring a sense of relief and contentment.
2. Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
Holding onto grudges can create anxiety, stress, and hostility within us. When you hold onto grudges, you carry the thoughts and expectations you had from a previous failed relationship to all your other current relationships. This leads to the expectation that the other party will hurt you even before they actually do anything wrong, which can cause feelings of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, we set the bar unfairly high for people who have not hurt us. A tiny careless mistake can be interpreted as malicious and intentional, which inevitably results in the souring of the relationship.
When we forgive, we release these negative emotions. We let go of the anger and resentment that often consume us. As a result, we experience less anxiety and stress, and our overall hostility diminishes.
3. Healthier relationships
When you hold onto grudges, it's like carrying around heavy bags of negativity. By overcoming anxiety and refraining from anticipating harm from others, we create an environment conducive to cultivating healthier and more fulfilling relationships. These healthier relationships provide a foundation for trust, open communication, and mutual support, fostering personal growth and a more positive overall well-being.
Therefore, when you forgive, you lighten your emotional load. This makes it easier for you to build healthier connections with others. You can become more open, understanding, and kind. By letting go of resentment, you create space for empathy and trust to grow in your relationships (Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness, 2022).
How to forgive
1. Acknowledge your emotions
Recognising and accepting the emotions you feel when someone has hurt you is important. Understand that these emotions can influence how you act and think. Then, try to let go of these emotions and find ways to heal. This might involve talking to someone you trust, finding healthy outlets, or engaging in activities that help you feel better.
2. Share your feelings
Sometimes, it might not be possible to communicate directly with the person you want to forgive. They could have passed away or moved away, making it challenging to reach them. However, once you choose to forgive, you can still complete the process in different ways.
One way is by sharing your decision with someone else who can provide support and understanding. This could be a loved one, a mentor, a spiritual leader, or even a therapist or adult counselling services in Singapore. By expressing your forgiveness to them, you can find solace and closure.
In cases where the person you're forgiving has passed away, completing the forgiveness process may involve finding symbolic ways to honour their memory. For example, you could visit a place that held significance for both of you, allowing you to find closure and acceptance (Raypole, 2020).
3. Write a letter
If you don't feel comfortable sharing your feelings with anyone, you can also write a letter to express your feelings. This allows you to reflect on your forgiveness and process your emotions privately and personally.
Writing letters can serve as an effective means of extending forgiveness to toxic family members, abusive ex-partners, or anyone you may not wish to reconnect with. The letter can be written for your own sense of closure and kept until you are ready to reach out.
Forgiveness is never easy, especially when you have been deeply hurt. However, forgiveness brings many mental health benefits, and holding on to your pain and anger can cause more harm than good. In some cases where the offence is severe (e.g., abuse), the right to be angry may be empowering as it provides a sense of control over their lives. In this case, victims do not need to undertake the emotional labour of understanding why the perpetrator chose to hurt them.
If you have trouble letting go of the past or have difficulties managing your anger and emotions, consider seeking professional help from adult counselling services in Singapore. Services that offer relationship therapy in Singapore are also beneficial for couples who have difficulty forgiving or letting go of past relationship issues.
Remember, forgiveness is a process that requires patience and self-compassion. Be gentle with yourself in the journey of forgiveness.
Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness. (2022, November 22). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/forgiveness/art-20047692
Raypole, C. (2020, April 27). How to Forgive Someone (Even If They Really Screwed Up). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-forgive#what-to-do