I got the idea for this blog post on forgiveness when I was visiting my father recently. When I was with him I had a sense of ease and comfortability. That was not always the case, you see growing up I always carried a lot of resentment toward my father. I’m not proud of it but that is the way it was. I thought that my anger was somehow punishing him, but in fact I was only harming myself. The more I’ve gotten to know my father the more I realize that he did his best and I love him for that. He didn’t have the best of role models in his father. As my Dad stated during my visit regarding his father, “he was a real SOB.”
It wasn’t until I began to look at myself that I stopped blaming him. I forgave him and now I have more love to share. I see him in a different way, through a different set of eyes. I see him for the man that he is and not the man I created in my mind from a place of hatred. I am grateful that I can spend time with him in a state of calmness. It was apparent when I look at a photograph I took with my Father that I am at peace with him. (See above)
What are the benefits of forgiving someone?
According to the Mayo Clinic letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind.
Forgiveness can lead to:
Improved mental health
Less anxiety, stress and hostility
Lower blood pressure
Fewer symptoms of depression
A stronger immune system
Improved heart health
Reduced substance abuse
Greater life satisfaction
How can you forgive?
Here are some steps to forgiveness suggested by Everett Worthington, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University, one of the leading researchers on forgiveness. He developed the REACH Forgiveness process:
Recall the hurt.
Empathize or, more broadly, emotionally replace negative emotion with positive emotion. So replace the negative emotion with empathy or compassion or love or sympathy for the person.
Altruistic gift - Forgive without strings attached; forgiveness is a gift you give to others.
Commit to the forgiveness experience.
Hold on to the forgiveness experience.
If there is someone you need to forgive, please do it while the person is alive. If that’s not the case it’s not too late, you can still forgive. When you do a burden will be lifted. It will be better for your health and well-being as well as improve the relationship with the person that you forgave, others and yourself.