Forgiveness and Wellbeing


Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood concepts of psychology yet extremely helpful in one’s well being be it mental, emotional, spiritual.

The concept of forgiveness according to the dictionary refers to ceasing the feeling of resentment against the offender. Forgiveness isn’t something one does for someone else’s benefit. This is perhaps the most important thing one needs to know about it.

Forgiveness is good for one’s own well-being but still most people do not let go. By withholding forgiveness,one might feel controlling of the situation, and may fear that forgiving would mean losing that.

Research has shown that forgiveness is linked to mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression and major psychiatric disorders, as well as with fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates. Hence it is an essential part for one's own wellbeing .

Toussaint and Worthington suggest that stress relief is probably the chief factor connecting forgiveness and well-being. "We know chronic stress is bad for our health," Toussaint says. "Forgiveness allows you to let go of the chronic interpersonal stressors that cause us undue burden." While stress relief is important, Enright believes there are other important mechanisms by which forgiveness works its magic. One of those, he suggests, is "toxic" anger. "There's nothing wrong with healthy anger, but when anger is very deep and long lasting, it can do a number on us systemically," he says. "When you get rid of anger, your muscles relax, you're less anxious, you have more energy, your immune system can strengthen. Another research reported slightly earlier, in 2015, linked forgiveness with the proverbial forgetting. Emotional, intentional forgiveness influenced subsequent incident forgetting. Determined, purposeful emotional forgiveness causes forgetting and is an important first step in the forgiven cascade.



Holding back from forgiving someone can have the following effects :-

  • It brings anger and bitterness to every new or old relationship as one evaluates others based on the experience taken up from previous people or situations i.e learning through the negative experiences.

  • One becomes so wrapped up in the wrongs that they fail to enjoy the present , i.e. one gets lost in the negative thoughts or memories related to the negative experience that they tend to forget that there are still people who care for them and want them to be happy genuinely.

  • One might start to feel that they do not have purpose or value in life as they take the other person's behaviour as a result of their choice of interacting with the individual who inflicted pain or hurt to them.

  • There is a loss of in depth enriching connectedness with others as one stops trusting others and starts to rely upon their past experiences more and more.

  • Leads to the effect on the mental health of other family members as well because the unresolved pain and anger turns into frustration which one might inflict on the rest of the family members, especially children.


Here are the following methods to let go of the grudge and reasons to forgive someone -


  • Identifying what needs to be healed and who needs to be forgiven in order to get relieved , one should acknowledge their emotions and feelings with the situation or person and how it affects one's own behaviour in order to heal.

  • One needs to release the control of the situation and the person that hurt them has on their life . When one does not feel intimidated by the situation , the negative feeling automatically reduces as the effect of the feeling on the person reduces .

  • Recognise the value of forgiveness and how it can improve one's life , this makes it easier to let go of the resentment. As one lets go of the bitterness that they held for so long, one starts to define their life by them and not by their situations or pain that was inflicted to them , hence restoring their power .

  • Forgive on the smaller things first , It's normal to struggle while forgiving someone but one can get accustomed to do so by forgiving daily for little things .

  • Move on from the memories that linger on after the incident so as to let go of the resentment .

  • An apology may not change your relationship with the other person or elicit an apology from her. If you don’t expect either, you won’t be disappointed.



Here are the following advantages of practicing forgiveness :-


  • An improved relationship with one's own self and with others as when one forgives someone , they allow a space for positive new experiences , people and hence relationships .

  • There is a restoration of faith in humanity and their loved ones.

  • One has a stronger immune system and a better health as the stress caused by the grudge wears us off .

  • It can lead people to have a fresher perspective in life as one starts to add a new meaning to life.


Despite the above-mentioned methods and advantages, Forgiveness like any other tasks is easier said than done,

But it should be practiced as ‘ To err is human to forgive, is divine.


Reference

Daniel , K. (2020, November 13). Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness.

Retrieved from- https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/forgiveness/art-20047692


Snyder, C. ( 2020,March 4) .The Many Benefits of Forgiveness. Retrieved from -

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-forgiveness-3144954


Weir, K. (2017, January ). Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health. Retrieved from -

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/01/ce-corner

 

This Blog on 'Forgiveness and Wellbeing' has been contributed by Simarpreet Kaur, who is currently pursuing BA in psychology from GGDSD College, Chandigarh. She is keenly interested in singing, creating content, and drawing and looks forward to becoming a counselor someday.


She is part of the Global Internship Research Program (GIRP). GIRP is a Umang Foundation Trust initiative to encourage young adults across our globe to showcase their research skills in psychology and to present it in creative content expression.