Much has been said about the virtues of forgiveness, yet many today who need to forgive are unable or unwilling to do so. This is mainly due to the wrong understanding of what forgiveness is. Most people, when given a clearer understanding of what forgiveness is, become more willing to do so.
Here are some good reasons why you should forgive:
1. Forgiveness is about YOU
Many people are of the opinion that forgiving a perpetrator allows the perpetrator to escape punishment. They think that forgiveness is about giving the perpetrator a second chance at the expense of the injured party.
The truth is forgiveness is all about the injured and is for the benefits of the injured. The focus of forgiveness is for the injured to finally be able to let go of the pain that has continued to hurt him or her even long after the initial assault. It is to help the injured find peace within so that he or she can move on in life without having to continuously carry the pain of the injury.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning the act or absolving the perpetrator of his or her responsibility for the action. It does not mean that the injured will tolerate being inflicted with the same injury again and again. It does not mean reconciliation although reconciliation may happen if the injured wishes.
Forgiveness means standing up for your rights and your self worth. It means drawing a boundary about what you will accept as OK and what is not OK. It means having the courage to assert your rights and responsibilities.
2. Forgiveness is the best revenge
People who have been badly hurt by an intimate person such as a spouse, partner, parent, sibling or close friend sometimes erroneously believe that by staying in the hurt, they are somehow indirectly punishing the perpetrator. They see it as their way of getting back at the perpetrator.
This logic does not hold water because very often the perpetrator does not really care about you in the first place or else he or she would not have cause the injury. In addition, continue to wallow in the pain only prolonged the injury long after it has happened. If it was the intention of the perpetrator to hurt you, clinging on to the pain only multiplies his or her success at hurting you.
In fact, the best revenge of the injured is to live a good and happy life after the injury. This is the surest way to foil the perpetrator's “success".
3. Forgiveness improves your health
Studies have shown that an unforgiving heart suffers increased risk of stress, anxiety, depression, anger, hatred, jealousy, ill will, sadness and insomnia. In addition, an unforgiving heart also risks high blood pressure, heart attack, skin eruptions, arthritis, backache, stomach ulcer, migraine, frequent cold and perhaps even risk of malignancy.
Genuine forgiveness, on the other hand, can have the opposite effects. There is reduced stress, anxiety, depression, anger, hatred, jealousy, ill will, sadness and insomnia as well as a reduction in physical ailments. On top of that, studies have also shown that those who are forgiving tend to grow old with more peace and satisfaction, and less afraid to face death.
So, a forgiving person benefits from improved health in all areas, i. e. physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
4. Forgiveness makes you a better and stronger person
Another myth about forgiveness is that only the weak forgives. The truth is that only the strong can forgive. That is because forgiveness requires the courage to truly face the emotional pain and injuries, to embrace them and then to eventually let them go. This task is so difficult and painful that many are not able to face it but it is a necessary initial step towards forgiveness.
So, only the strong can forgive. The good news is that once the injured is able to go through the process of forgiveness, he or she will grow to become stronger. There will be a change in his or her fundamental belief systems as well as a renewed purpose and meaning to life. Life will be re-invigorated once again when the old hurt can be left behind without becoming a burden.
So, if you have been hurt before and find it hard to forgive, seriously consider all these good reasons why you should forgive and start to learn how to forgive. It's going to do you a world of good. I promise.
Dr. Tim Ong is a medical doctor who runs his own thriving medical practice. In his free time, he enjoys giving public talks, teaching meditation and offering his service to hospice work in the community. He also has keen interest in self improvement, mind science and spirituality. Dr. Ong is the webmaster of MindScience101.com and TheSelfImprovementSite.com .