Forgiveness is the intentional process of internally processing and accepting an experience that has caused you to feel victimized. Forgiving someone who has wronged you is often a difficult feat that must be initiated with reflection and coming to terms that you are worth relieving yourself of the pain you continue to hold. Realize that as long as you continue to hold on to the wrongdoing, it will just as well have a hold on you. Your decision to release the ill feelings and overcome the pain will allow you to move forward in your life without grudges. Researchers have found that holding on to pain will eventually fester and show up in your life and behavior in various ways. You may experience physical manifestations such as stomachaches or headaches. It could also present in psychological ways and appear as anger, avoidance, depression, or anxiety. By permitting yourself to release the anger, resentment, and other feelings related to the offense brought upon, you may relieve some of these symptoms.
When you begin to process the offense, evaluate the situation, and make a conscious effort to move past it. In no way does this mean that you will forget what happened or should excuse the person’s actions. It indeed does not imply that going after the offender with malicious intent or revenge will help the given situation. However, it does mean that you realize that you will no longer allow it to bear weight upon you. Contrary to popular belief that one is weak by not being vengeful, going after the offender with malice only recycles the pain.
If the transgression occurred in a relationship with a significant other, you should not return to an abusive relationship or engage in further activities with the person by forgiving them. It could only mean that you can have cordial conversations without allowing yourself to fall into their grips once more. At times, it may be helpful to have an open discussion with someone you trust or a mental health professional who may help you unpack previous experiences and realize how the pain affects your life. Many times we attempt to face challenges alone out of pride and embarrassment. Rest assured, everyone has challenges whether they may disclose them or not. Expressing your feelings with a trusted source may provide you the support you need to uncover your inner strength in facing your pain.
Do not allow the offender to continue to have control of your joy. Reevaluate the situation and take responsibility for your own actions. Your feelings and well-being are worth you moving forward and not holding on to past offenses. If you choose to have a conversation with the person to “clear the air,” acknowledge your mistakes and make amends if possible. Whatever the results of the discussion are, remember your reasons for wanting to reconcile. Set clear boundaries and reflect on the lessons you have learned from the experience and from the act of forgiveness itself. Let this direct your path in the future.
Permit yourself to enter this New Year with compassion, grace, and self-love. Be honorable and respectful in all your ways. Forgiveness is not allowing the offender to win. It is quite the opposite and allowing yourself to be free from pain. Leave old baggage behind as it has proven to be more trouble than it is worth. Begin this New Year with increased feelings of happiness, optimism, and hopefulness. You owe it to yourself. You are worth it—your mental health matters.