Forgiving someone who has hurt you is likely to help you more than the person who injured you. Holding a grudge can increase blood pressure and heart rate, as well as induce muscle tension and anxiety-producing thoughts, according to studies conducted from an article in the January 2008 "Mayo Clinic Women's Healthsource." Forgiveness isn't easy, though. You must be intentional about forgiving the person and letting go, or you may find yourself complaining about your hurt 20 years from now.
Change the Way You Think
Changing your perspective about the person who hurt you can help you to forgive her and move on with your life. People who engage in hurtful and selfish acts are often ill-equipped to handle circumstances in their lives. For example, a friend who lost her temper and accused you of not caring for her may be experiencing rejection in her personal life in the form of an inattentive husband. While you may not be privy to the person's innermost life, considering that her behavior is likely a reflection of something other than yourself. Cultivating such empathy will help you to forgive.
Forgiving someone doesn't have to mean reconciliation, points out psychologist Frederic Luskin on his website LearningToForgive.com. Nor does it mean you are saying it was okay for the person to have treated you badly. Instead, view it as a journey towards inner peace and a reframing of what happened so that you can let go of blame and any feelings of victimization. A friend who made sexual overtures to your wife, for example, needn't be invited to dinner again anytime soon, if ever. Whenever a thought of resentment passes through your mind about the incident, observe it and let it go. Forgiveness doesn't mean you'll never think about what happened, just that it won't occupy major real estate in your mind.
Write Down Your Feelings
Writing down your feelings about the event can not only provide a form of catharsis, but can also provide needed perspective, says stress and resilience expert Paula Davis-Laack in a March 2013 article in "Psychology Today." Try writing down the incident from the perspective of a third party observer. Doing so will help you to distance yourself from the hurt and gain objectivity, which can help you on your journey to forgiveness.
Often, people will make progress toward forgiveness only to find hurt feelings resurfacing when they talk to friends about what happened. Davis-Laack advises putting a halt to all gossiping about the situation. Your friends are likely to reinforce your version of the facts and help you slide back into a feeling of victimization. If your husband cheated on you, hearing what a slimeball he is from your best friend won't help you forgive him.
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