It’s important to forgive those who hurt you for reasons that have nothing to do with them. At the same time, forgiveness should never be forced.
If you’re not ready to forgive someone, that position deserves respect and support. When we feign forgiveness before we’re prepared to give it, we harm ourselves through self-abandonment and inauthenticity.
You may fear putting yourself in harm’s way if you extend forgiveness to someone who keeps hurting you. But that only happens if you allow the abuse to go on.
You can forgive someone and refuse to reconcile with them. That’s healthy self-protection. Forgiving someone with whom you’ve gone no contact, for example, still offers you health benefits.
Here are 5 reasons it’s important to forgive those who hurt you (that have nothing to do with them).
1. Reduces stress.
Negative feelings normally accompany unforgiveness. We want things to be different than they were and that creates a lot of stress and tension in the body.
Stress releases chemicals that can cause physical illness. The constant tension of unforgiveness holds us back from living our best life.
When you release someone through forgiveness you choose to release yourself from undue stress. This has the power to improve your health and help you move forward toward the life of your dreams.When you release someone through forgiveness you choose to release yourself from undue stress. Click To Tweet
2. Forgiveness and trust are distinct.
Forgiving someone does not mean you have to trust them. If your husband had an affair and makes sincere efforts to change, you can forgive before trust has been re-established.
When you forgive someone you still take measures to protect yourself. For example, you can forgive someone while removing them from your life because they’ve shown an unwillingness to change.
3. When you forgive you release resentment.
Resisting forgiveness burdens you with bitterness and resentment. That keeps you mired in the past and makes it difficult to move forward.
Many say the key to happiness is living in the present. Bitterness about a wrong done against you in the past keeps you from fully embracing the present moment.
4. When you forgive, it alters your identity.
Refusing or resisting forgiveness can become your unwanted identity. You label yourself as the victim of your perpetrator which, again, makes it difficult to move on.
I’m not advocating forgive and forget, and strongly believe in grieving past events for as long as you need.
But extending forgiveness can help you forge a new identity. One in which you share the knowledge and power that may have come out of surviving a terrible experience.
5. It empowers you.
When you forgive, you become the hero of your story rather than the victim. You’re no longer limited by the wrongs done against you in the past.When you forgive, you become the hero of your story rather than the victim. Click To Tweet
You’ve done something courageous and gone above and beyond in a way that enhances your sense of self-worth. And you’re free to chart a course independent of another’s influence or crimes against you.
You set boundaries that dictate what you will and won’t tolerate. You refuse to repeat old patterns that let others misuse or mistreat you.