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5 Benefits We Receive Only when We Forgive Others by Michelle Donice Gillis, Ph. D.

Updated: Jan 4

How bad is it to hold a grudge?

We tend to think it’s our business whether we forgive someone or not. After all, it’s only emotions. Right?

Not quite. While we have a right to feel however we feel about a person or situation, many factors come into play when we don't forgive others. Many affect our health, giving us high blood pressure, upset stomachs or other digestive problems, and increased levels of chronic pain. Others affect how people perceive and even interact with us.

If none of this sounds good, consider how easy it is to turn things around. Forgiveness is the bridge that takes us from the painful event toward growth and betterment. Unconvinced? Consider these benefits we receive when we forgive others:

We Restore Self-Worth

Even when we’ve been wronged, we have a tendency to feel as though we were somehow at fault for the situation. Whether true or not, forgiveness lets us let go of the actions we hoped we would have carried out and release any self-blame that has hurt our view of ourselves.

We Stop Being Victims

When we feel the pain again and again as we relive the betrayal, we become trapped at this moment, accepting our role as the victim, which we've placed upon ourselves. This isn't healthy, especially since this takes away any possibility of having any power or control in your life. Forgiveness reverses this, giving control back where it belongs – with you.

You Start to Grow

Forgiveness moves you forward, past the event, and into the future. Instead of being stuck in the past, you can now look forward, make new goals and plans, and do what you need to carry them out.

We Protect Our Health

As mentioned before, the stress of holding a grudge has so many negative outcomes regarding physical and mental health. By letting go, you become calmer, more at peace. The stress hormone in your body quiets, and you begin to heal.

We Become More Caring

While it's never a good thing to be hurt by those we love, there are lessons we can take away from experience. The problem is, you're not likely to see them if you're caught up in reliving the pain of dwelling on the past. It takes forgiveness to open your eyes to what you've gained and to be able to apply this knowledge to our lives. The foremost lesson? One is empathy. We now know what it's like to be let down, meaning we're less likely to let down those around us.

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