Forgiveness plays a very important role in your life, especially within your most intimate relationships. Forgiveness offers both freedom and peace of mind, yet many choose to hold on to pain, bitterness and resentment. A lack of forgiveness lies at the heart of many problems; learning to let it go, thereby releasing you from its prison, can only result in one thing—happiness.

Your health and well-being are closely connected to your happiness. Practicing forgiveness will contribute significantly to them. With this in mind I wanted to share some points to help you to become more forgiving.

See forgiveness as a gift to you, not a gift to someone else.

One of the reasons why you may hang on to a grievance is that you may believe that you are letting the other person off the hook by offering them forgiveness. In fact, it’s not actually about the other person. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself so that you no longer have to suffer, so that you can find peace and provide closure to the situation. The longer you hold on to a grievance, the more likely you are to have sleepless nights, stress and other unhealthy conditions. Practice forgiveness by treating it as a gift to you, so that you are free to live a happier life.

Stop ruminating on negative feelings.

Going over and over the same negative feelings will only continue to be a waste of time and be unproductive. Give yourself an opportunity to express how you feel to the relevant person, or if that is impossible (for example, if they are no longer alive), write it down in your journal. Expressing yourself and articulating exactly how it made you feel will help to release the grievance or grudge, thereby releasing any negative feelings associated with it.

Identify your experience of the grudge.

When you’ve had something happen to you as a result of someone else’s behavior, it is hard to entertain the notion of offering forgiveness. One of the best ways to start the process is to identify your experience of the grudge. What are your actual feelings, thoughts and sensations around the situation? Most likely it will be a dark, sad and heavy feeling, which you have quite possibly played over and over in your mind. It can help to write this down, which will enable you to try to discover a new experience of the grudge so that you can release it once and for all.

Consider the impact holding on to the grudge has on you.

Ask yourself what areas of your life it has affected. Has it stopped you from living the life you once had? How would your life change if you practiced forgiveness? Remember that what happened was in the past and the very fact you are continuing to hold on to it will only keep it in the future for as long as you let it. Perhaps it is not only affecting you but those around you. Consider how your relationships will change if you choose differently.

Ask yourself what you really need to do this.

If you need to express your hurt and pain to someone, perhaps it’s worth looking into that, or ask a friend to sit with you so you can let it all out. Use this as your chance to express what you really need so you can forgive, be honest and open with yourself, and look inwards to help heal. You need to stop carrying this heavy weight around with you, so really ask yourself what it is you need to do in order to continue with your life peacefully.

Acknowledge that it happened.

Sometimes when you choose not to forgive, there may be instances where you feel partly responsible for the situation, so you choose to blame someone else rather than be honest with yourself. Guilt is no better than holding on to your grudge; both of these feelings will eat away at you and only cause you harm in the long run. You owe it to yourself and your health to make a fresh start: get everything out, have the courage to own up and let it go.

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness will take time, as with anything else that is important to you. When the time is right, you must have an attitude of tough love towards yourself. Yes, be compassionate and caring, but don’t let yourself off the hook. Like doing something that really matters to you, you know you need to do it for your own good, so keep at it and stay committed—it will be worth it in the end.

Is there something or someone you need to forgive?

Featured photo credit: symphony of love via flickr.com

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