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As we forgive those...

This week I've been been working with a few clients on forgiveness - forgiving others, forgiving yourself, letting go of anger. It's a hard things to do. Our natural inclination when someone does something to us that we aren't happy with is that we want to hold on to that. If we forgive them, surely they've got away with it? They don't deserve to get away with it. They don't deserve forgiveness at all and so we are absolute not going to forgive them.

But what if we're getting forgiveness all wrong? What if forgiving doesn't imply that what happened wasn't a big deal? What if it doesn't mean you have to forget? What if it doesn't mean they've 'got away with it'? What if it doesn't even need to lead to reconciliation? What if it just means letting go of our anger, pain and desire for vengeance.

When we hold on to those negative emotions, the feelings of anger and resentment become a part of us. Our focus on them causes us to start to tune into more things that make us feel anger and resentment. It can impact our behaviour and our relationships. It can affect us emotionally, mentally and even physically (can you feel that tension in your stomach when you feel angry at someone?). Conversely there are studies like this one, showing that forgiving others reduces blood pressure and anxiety and improves sleep and self esteem.

The problem is that it's all well and good in theory, but in the face of what feels like an unforgivable act, we often just don't want to forgive. If you're feeling that way then I think it's really worth remembering, we don't primarily forgive for the good of the other person. We forgive for us. We forgive so that we can let go of the anger, the hurt and the resentment and so that we can move forward more positively. Ask yourself... Who am I impacting negatively by holding on to this anger? Who am I impacting positively by holding on to this anger?

The actual process of forgiveness can be long and difficult as we navigate our feelings, but even just understanding how important it is and how it will benefit us will support us to find ways to do it, to step into a more empathetic version of ourselves and to release our anger. That can only be a good thing.

What do you think? Do you tend to hold a grudge or do you find it quite easy to move forward when someone wrongs you? If you are working on forgiveness get in touch and let's see if I can help you.

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