Skip to content
Group 401

Can’t Forget? Forgive and Accept. Understanding the Benefits of Forgiveness.

Portrait of young African-American woman embracing her Caucasian boyfriend and smiling in parkAnger, hatred, and regret are intangible emotions that can cause very tangible physical effects on your body. When harbored inside, they can become poisons that slowly eat away at your mental and physical health, your happiness, confidence, and willingness to trust and accept others. Fortunately, there is a powerful cure for the dangers of negative emotions: forgiveness. Letting go of your anger and disappointment, whether it is self-inflicted or aimed at others, can help restore balance and peace to your life and give you the strength and confidence to move forward positively and happily.

The Negative Effects of Anger

“Why can’t you just let it go?” If friends or loved ones have ever asked you this question, then you may be the type of person to hold on to anger and resentment. Perhaps you write it off as stubbornness or pride, but ultimately, your inability to forgive and move on may be causing you more physical and mental anguish than any argument could be worth. The long-term physical effects of uncontrolled anger include high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, increased anxiety, and headaches or migraines. It has also been linked to obesity, low self-esteem, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, sexual performance issues, a higher probability of abusing others emotionally or physically, and relationship problems.

The Power of the Words “I Forgive You”

The three words, “I forgive you,” have the power to begin reversing the harmful effects of anger and negativity on your mind and body. They can turn anger into peace. Just as anger and hate can negatively impact your health, forgiveness can be a physical salve on your emotional wounds. Forgiveness has been linked to lower rates of blood pressure and reduced stress. It can also reduce feelings of fatigue and improve sleep quality for those who have been negatively impacted by pain or hurt. Forgiveness can also help to restore positivity, improve mood, and boost happiness.

How to Let Go and Forgive

If the idea of forgiving someone who has wronged you impactfully  — stole from you, lied to you, cheated on you — seems insurmountable, know that forgiveness is not about accepting their negative actions. It’s not even about forgetting what occurred or how much it hurt you at the time. It’s about making a conscious decision to let go of your negative feelings moving forward and leaving the events and pain in the past. Also, understand that when you forgive a hurtful event, it doesn’t mean your relationship with the instigator survives. Maybe it can, but perhaps forgiveness means letting go of the person who hurt you. Every situation is unique, and deciding whether or not the person who wronged you will still have a place in your life must be separated from the decision to move on from the pain.

Final Thoughts

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Keep his words in mind as you make the conscious decision to forgive and move forward. Even if you cannot accept the hurtful actions that someone inflicted, care enough about yourself to let go of the pain and leave it behind you as you walk toward the light of a new day.