The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.
~ Marianne Williamson
You have their number stored in your phone.
Yet you stare at the phone on the side of your bed, refusing to pick it up and call them.
You’ve been staring at the phone for days. Weeks. Years.
You don’t pick up the phone to call because of the pain they’ve caused you. (Or you simply might ignore their calls when they call.)
They’ve done you wrong – there’s no doubt about that.
They forgot to invite you to a family get-together. Or worse, their wedding. Or say thank you for the gift you spend countless hours searching for and purchasing for them with care.
They forgot your birthday, your anniversary, your family reunion. They didn’t send you condolences when your parents passed away.
They might have bad-mouthed you. Insulted you. Criticized you.
They weren’t there for you during a difficult time in your life and maybe even made the situation worse.
They could have abused you when you were younger. Hurt you beyond words. Assaulted you. Took advantage of your vulnerability and kindness. Maybe put you in a lifetime of therapy.
They tried to fight for the custody of your children in court. Or sued you to get a part of the family inheritance. Stole from the family business. Or never paid you back the large sums of money they owed you.
They’ve hurt you emotionally, drained you mentally, and stolen from you financially.
Took advantage of you and stole your happiness.
Why would you forgive these people at all – family or not?
18 reasons to let go of grudges and deep pain to forgive the people you love.
1. Your own inner peace and happiness is tied to your forgiveness.
Unfortunately, the grudge you’re holding is only hurting you more. The longer you wait to forgive, the longer the wrong, inequity, or injustice will burn in your heart.
They may have hurt you but you’re hurting yourself more by not forgiving. By allowing the wrong to replay in your life repeatedly and by embracing the anger the injustice brings, your mind isn’t at ease.
Don’t forgive for the wrong-doer – forgive if you desire peace and inner happiness.
2. You can breathe easier and be free of guilt.
Once you forgive and get the injustice off your chest, you’ll feel lighter and breathe easier.
You were feeling guilty for not having forgiven someone and the guilt was eating at your heart. Now that you’ve forgiven, you will physically feel better and healthier.
Forgiveness removes the heavy burden you’ve been carrying around.
3. You clear the bad energy and release what’s holding you back.
When you’re holding a grudge and holding anger in your heart, you’re filled with bad energy and negative vibrations.
When there’s so much negativity in the air, you have a difficulty living your best life. You can’t be as productive as you’d like to be. You’ll find your dreams take longer to achieve. And whatever it is you’re going after in your life will be filled with challenges.
Forgiving allows for positive energy to be infused into everything you do. Whatever you desire manifests more quickly. More positivity and good surprises appear in your life. Goals are achieved, dreams are fulfilled.
4. You break free from your ego’s hold on you.
When you forgive, you’re overcoming your ego which wants to be the head honcho in your life.
Forgiveness requires humility and giving in. It allows setting aside the notion that you’re too great to forgive.
Forgiveness breaks through the hardened edges of your stubbornness and lets you find peace.
5. You open the way for others to forgive you.
When you open your heart to forgive, others will have room in their hearts to forgive you.
You never know when or who you will need to ask forgiveness from. You will unknowingly hurt or wrong someone yourself one day. Permit the laws of karma to work in your favor.
6. You preserve relationships with people who care about you most.
No matter what happened, your family has known you your whole life and has your back.
They’ll be there in the tough and rough times. Excuse their trespass now and they’ll hopefully be there for you in the future.
While your friends may be there for you today, you never know about tomorrow. Nothing holds people together like a family bond so give your relative the benefit of your forgiveness.
7. You give others a second chance and the possibilities of new beginnings.
If this is the first time they’ve hurt you like this, give them another opportunity. Forgive because you believe in the good of people and that a one-time mistake shouldn’t cast over your entire relationship with someone.
Once you forgive, be open to new beginnings. Put this incident behind you so you can start over again with them. Change the dynamics of the relationship with them by finding it in your heart to forgive.
Forgiveness allows you to clear the air of bitterness and hard feelings.
8. You show your kids and others you love that forgiveness is possible.
If nothing else, forgive to set an example to your kids. You want them to be forgiving and kind individuals. You want them to practice humility and kindness.
There’s no better way to infuse a spirit of forgiveness in your children than by readily and easily forgiving others.
Turn your forgiveness into a teaching moment.
9. You allow the past to be in the past.
They’ve already hurt you once but why are you allowing the pain of the past to haunt you repeatedly?
If you continue to replay the past hurt in your mind and allow your emotions to bubble up each time you replay the past, you’re giving the wrongdoer the opportunity to continue hurting you.
When you forgive, you won’t have to be stuck in the past any longer. You’ll free yourself from the heavy feelings of anger and release the pain you’ve been holding in your heart.
10. You’ve taken responsibility for your own life.
When you forgive, you’ll take away the power from the other person. They no longer have the ability to hurt you anymore when you forgive.
You’ll also stop thinking of yourself as a victim. You had the ability to rise above your ego and your stubbornness to forgive. It’s not the victim who forgives, it’s the hero!
Become the hero of your life by seizing the day and forgiving them.
11. You remember that everyone is doing the best they can in their lives.
The person who hurt you was likely not intentionally hurting you. They might have done so without knowing what they were doing, not deliberately or maliciously. They just made a bad decision which they might regret as well.
They are trying to live their best life and do the best they know now. They may have more growing to do and are evolving into a better person. Don’t become fixated with the person you see today because they will become a more evolved person tomorrow.
12. You’re able to extend compassion and empathy to others.
By forgiving the wrong-doer you’re putting into practice the spiritual principles you’ve been taught your whole life.
By forgiving, you understand the other person’s background. You are taking their circumstances and hardships into account. You are giving their motivations and intentions the benefit of doubt.
You are putting yourself in their shoes and finding plausible reasons for why they behaved the way they did.
13. The greater the trespass, the greater your ability to forgive.
The hurt they caused you may be deep and painful but you show your ability to forgive and your highest self when you forgive anyways.
Step up to the plate and allow forgiveness. Show your character by taking the high road. No matter how deeply or intensely they’ve hurt you, be willing to forgive more.
14. Forgiveness heals.
When you forgive, your heart begins to heal. The pain, sorrow, guilt, and sadness begin to thaw in your heart. The wounds of the wrongdoing begin to heal and lead you back to a more joyful life.
Forgiveness is like medicine. And therapy. And a heart song.
When you forgive, you’re allowing for your life to rehabilitate and for you to move on.
15. They helped you learn and grow.
Think about what this person’s actions did to you. What did you learn from them? How does forgiving them allow you to grow?
How can you become a better person by forgiving? How does your character improve by forgiveness?
What lifelong lessons have this person’s actions and your ability to forgive had on your life?
16. Remember the good they’ve done for you.
Not everyone is a bad person. Even the person who has hurt you has done a world of good. Instead of focusing on the one screw up, think about all the positive ways this person has impacted your life. Think about all the good they’ve done in the world and their redeeming qualities.
Try to be grateful for this person and the things they’ve done for you and others. Shift your focus from one of fault to one of gratefulness.
17. It wasn’t personal.
Maybe the whole wrongdoing wasn’t intended at you. And wasn’t intended to be so personal. The person could have simply said something inappropriate. Or made an off-color joke. Or unintentionally hurt you.
They did because they messed up, not because they had it in for you.
It wasn’t malicious, intentional, or aimed at you – you were just the innocent bystander to their actions.
They didn’t intentionally not invite you to the party, they just didn’t have enough room for more people.
It’s not that they forgot to call you on your birthday, but they were dealing with a major life emergency at the time.
By forgiving them, you’re learning to love more and take things less personally in life.
18. Life’s short.
If you were upset with this family member and never spoke to them for the rest of your life, you’re not only going to be gnawing with guilt and anger during this time but you’re likely going to regret it at their life’s end.
How sad would it be that you perpetuated a grudge and refused to forgive if they passed away tomorrow? If you never got a chance to apologize, wouldn’t you be preoccupied with their wrongdoing your whole life? If it was a parent or grandparent, wouldn’t you spend the rest of your life, after they’ve passed, regretting your decision not to talk to them?
Won’t you feel guilty for not repairing the family bond and allowing for past wrongdoings to remain in the past?
Life’s too short to carry grudges. You and the person who hurt you will eventually move on from earth.
Why continue to allow the hurt and pain fester?
Forgive to live without regrets.
It’s been years since you’ve picked up the phone to call your relative. Or answered it.
On the side of the other line is your brother. Or sister. Or mom. Or step-dad. Or grandmother.
Isn’t it time to let the past be the past and bygones be bygones? Isn’t time to heal?
Isn’t time you pick up the phone and forgive your family?
Go ahead and dial the number and do what your heart is urging you to do – forgive.
Please share your thoughts and feelings about forgiveness in the comments.
About the author:
Vishnu coaches people who have hit rock bottom in their careers, relationships or life. Check out his blog at www.vishnusvirtues.com and sign up for weekly posts on overcoming adversity and starting over again.