Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness
When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.
By Mayo Clinic staff
Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
What is forgiveness?
Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act.
Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
What are the benefits of forgiving someone?
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
»Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
»Less anxiety, stress and hostility
»Lower blood pressure
»Fewer symptoms of depression
»Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?
When you’re hurt by someone you love and trust, you might become angry, sad or confused. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.
What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you’re unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
How do I reach a state of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:
»Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
»Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being
»When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you. Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life
As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself
By Edward T. Creagan, M.D.
The insights and comments from our readers on the issue of forgiveness and letting go are clearly from the heart. In my simple view, forgiveness is an act of caring for myself. When you’ve been hurt by someone, it can take an almost superhuman effort to move forward. But I’ve learned that if I dwell on that past event, I’m surrendering and giving over my serenity and peace of mind. That’s not a wise thing to do.
Of course, we want to others to embrace accountability and repentance, but we can’t make that happen. And if amends aren’t forthcoming, it’s best for us to move on. As the scripture says, “Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words, go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.”
As you can see, I’m struggling with this concept. Please weigh in with your perspective on this difficult topic.
T.McCaghrey: Thank you for reading both articles about forgiveness and it is not an easy task at all. I hope my experience help you in your situation.
I’m sharing this post because many of you started to follow me all the way from 2006/07. I started to blog when I was venturing into the music industry. My blog entries were a lot about the things I was experiencing when exploring the mysterious world of entertainments. I would share about the celebrities I’ve met and the places I went to.
Working the way I do with the passion, speed and consistency came from a very deep place. I was grieving deeply and I needed a way to express myself that was non criminal and not self harming so I started sharing many of the feelings I had and the emotions I was going through. I remember posting about a very personal time of my life when writing letter to Thomas in my official website. I never read that entry ever again since writing it the first time. It’s been moved around as we have changed the layouts of my website so many times but no matter how cute the site looks I refuse to go back and read. I wrote it about 3years ago but I still can’t read it.
I told my husband that if people could read about pain and feelings of inflicting violence on other due to serious rage and need for vengeance then the same people should have access to a post talking about progress and forgiveness. Moving on is a good thing. Don’t do it for other people whoever they do it for you. It’s hard to forgive someone who is not remorseful or anyway near to showing any signs of understanding let alone willing to make a change. You gotta be in a position where you are tired to feel this big weight on your stomachs. When you feel tired to hurt and repeatedly think of a situation that changed you, it’s time to let go. At that time you’ll have to find a way to let go and fill that spot with happiness. Let happiness take over your heart. Allow yourself to be at a place when you can enjoy life, its people, its beauty, its experiences. Do not let one person or a situation take over that part of you because all you are doing is giving someone who cares little about, if at all, control your being when they probably forgot about you and are somewhere having the time of their lives.
Do yourself a favour and set yourself free.
For those who wonder if I forgave this Thomas? Yes, I have and below is what he had to say to me in regards to our past situations:
“Only you can free yourself. I understand you want closure and i’ll see you because I know I’m a massive part of helping with that but I can’t offer many answers. I’m sorry about that and I doubt all the sorries in the world are gonna help. I was wrong by the way I treated you.”
On his past behaviour a parenting to the late Daniel Strong, our son:
“Me talking stupidity like that was me not being able to handle that situation in the right way before. I shouldn’t have insulted you or him I should have told you where I stand and left it like that also me saying them things about him was a very long time ago and I have never said a bad word about you or him since as there is no need to talk bad about anyone. I have made mistakes in the past and have learnt from them I would truly hate for what happened to you to happen to me I wouldn’t know what to do and as bad as I spoke about him I would never wish death upon anyway one.”
I later shared with him details about how traumatic Daniel’s last days were. He didn’t expect to hear such things at all. I going to ahead and assume that it shocked him. This is what he had to say:
“I’ve never thought it was funny or knew about the situation. I’m sorry I’ve put you through that. Forgive if you want but it’s not somthing I ask. I hope this offers you want you’re looking for.”
He also enquired about Daniel’s pictures because he never saw him. I am not going to lie when I say this …as much I love my saviour Jesus and as much I am a forgiving and loving person, I did not swallow that request properly. I became paranoid thinking that he only accepted to meet me for his own benefits. See the child once and for all and get it over with. Clear his conscience so he could finally sleep tight thinking he’s seen him now, the boy is dead so he doesn’t have to mess with it anymore and move on.
Don’t get me wrong I am all for the moving on part the reason why we’re here but I didn’t want him to satisfied so quickly in a few hours of meeting up when I had to endure what feels like a lifetime of pain with my son. Also, the fact that I didn’t know whether to trust his words or not made it even more difficult because I thought how do you forgive someone who is not honest? Then I went on to wonder if we would be talking like this now if my son was still here? And guess what all these didn’t even matter. I had to move on. No more questions. God will have to deal with us all accordingly. I couldn’t be dealing with the pain, the hurt, the grief, the hate. I had to let go of the stress, the depression. I refused to be suicidal and I couldn’t be thinking of murder anymore I have two beautiful daughters so I forgave.
Are we “friends”? No but I’d love to hear from him sometimes. Not on a regular basics though we’ve met to close a chapter not open a new one however I’d love to hear positive things from him such as becoming successful in something or creating a charity maybe. I do hope life doesn’t get to harsh on him I know he has to change many things in his life but I hope he gets to a better place.
No matter what happened in the past I’ll never forget my son. My son is my everything the reason why I’m a better mother to my daughters. The reason why I am successful in life and the reason why I even started to blog. All this may also mean that I’ll never forget Thomas and the good person that I am told him that if he needed me someday he should tell me. I know it won’t ever ask maybe pride or maybe guilt but I offered so what with it is his choice.We are not friends and I hope life doesn’t get to harsh on him. I hope he changes many things in his life and I also hope he gets to a better place.
I hope this has helped somebody out there. I hope it even saved someone. I’m here with love and thank you to every articles onlines that helps people with their emotions. Thanks to all bloggers and journalists for catering to those in need of guidance in such personal and hard time in life. Sincerely.