What does forgiveness mean?
- Letting go of hurt and anger towards a person
- Being able to experience happy feelings
- Having better relationships
Why would you forgive?
It’s one of the hardest things to do, but forgiving someone can make a big difference to how happy you are. That’s because feeling bitter or angry towards someone prevents you from experiencing happy feelings.
Being overrun by negative feelings obviously isn’t great for your own happiness, so making an effort to transform those feelings through forgiveness is worth a go. When you forgive, the negative feelings you have disappear. This gives you the space to experience positive feelings again.
Research has shown that people who forgive:
- experience more happiness
- are in better physical health (particularly in terms of cardiovascular health)
- have better relationships, which in turn can increase happiness even more.
In other words, forgiveness is something you can do for yourself.
The challenge of forgiveness
Despite the benefits to your own state of mind, forgiving someone is easier said than done. There are a few reasons why you might find it hard to forgive:
- it doesn’t seem fair on the person who isn’t in the wrong
- you may want revenge
- the person in the wrong is more likely to get off lightly or without punishment if they are forgiven.
These are all totally understandable reactions, especially if you feel particularly screwed over. However, it’s worth remembering that while forgiving someone who has done something wrong won’t hurt them (it might even benefit them), it’s still ultimately going to be better for your own happiness.
Could forgiveness work for you?
If you're having trouble deciding whether or not to forgive, try to weigh up the pros and cons. It’s okay if you don’t feel ready. Relationships can be complicated, so forgiveness isn’t always straightforward. It can be especially hard if you've been really hurt by someone, and you may not always be able to work through your feelings on your own.
But, if you want to forgive someone and take a weight off your shoulders, you should definitely give it a go. There are a few different things you can try to work through the process of forgiving someone.