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Life Lesson: Why Forgiveness Sets You Free
It’s true, ya’ll. Supposedly, forgiveness sets you free: mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Sound good? Of course, it does. However, unfortunately for everyone’s favorite travel blogger, accepting this idea took me a very, very, very long time and an even longer time to implement into my own life.
And, actually, I’m still in the process of understanding why forgiveness is so powerful.
My biggest problem was (is?) that I never thought I had the personal strength to forgive anyone.
Without a doubt, I’m the Lady Macbeth of the Garden State. Forgiveness and I don’t always vibe well together.
You guys, I’m not even kidding about my initial inability to even try forgiveness.
It wasn’t because I didn’t know about how wonderful forgiveness was either. As an example, every single self-help or positivity podcast I played on my last dozen commutes emphasized the importance of letting go and releasing past pain into the abyss, allowing you to transform into a stronger and happier person.
Did those encouragements make me wanna stop complaining about past hurts? Or stop entertaining ridiculous revenge fantasies that would never happen in a million years? Uh, no.
The whole “forgive and move on” concept made me grind my teeth on more than one occasion, haha.
However, I can’t just blame “over the top happy” podcasts for my reluctant attitude.
Ultimately, the whole concept of “forgiveness” was difficult for me to wrap my mind around for years, especially after facing many personal challenges. I didn’t understand how it was fair or right for some people in my immediate circles to have it easy, especially in aspects of life that I found confounding and hopeless, while I struggled on a regular basis.
Not to mention, How could I ever forgive the people (*cough* men *cough*) who hurt me? And even more importantly, how could I ever forgive myself for screwing up left and right?
My brain couldn’t handle it. My blame felt like a living and breathing creature with restless energy that needed to go somewhere.
Despite all the angst, though, I’m glad I’m willing to finally leave the past where it belongs. I’m working through forgiveness, and over all, it’s been a positive and beneficial experience for me.
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Yes, Forgiveness Is Hard, But Worth It
Forgiveness isn’t easy (duh, Rachel, duh). If letting go was a piece of cake, everyone would do it, and you’d have the word “revenge” removed from the English dictionary altogether.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll immediately think, “Why should I forgive my former friend/ex-boyfriend/abusive neighbor? That’s letting them get away with it.”
Think about it, though. As sad as it is, someone who hurt you and didn’t care about his/her actions probably isn’t giving you any second thoughts.
Meanwhile you’re hanging around with stomachaches on a regular basis, because you’re feeling so angry and sad. It’s not healthy.
Not to mention, this repressed rage takes its toll on the other supportive relationships in your life. So I’m here to encourage you to forgive and move on, and then experience your life on a higher and happier level.
How to Forgive Someone Who Hurt You
Again, I want to drive the point home that forgiveness doesn’t let someone off the hook for hurting you.
On the School of Greatest podcast, Terry Crews was a guest speaker and he spoke a lot about forgiveness. Particularly at the very beginning of the video and then again starting at 50:41.
Although the forgiveness bits are great, I do recommend listening to the entire episode. Terry Crews is fantastic. I wish I was friends with him.
Anyway, in the podcast interview, Terry states that he had to forgive his father and once he did, he blocked his number. Boom. Done.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing someone back into your life to wreck havoc. It’s a way for you to reclaim your power.
As for me, I’m in the process of forgiving a few people from my past. And again, it doesn’t mean letting them get away with things. I mean, I wrote their names in my notebook, forgave them and then deleted their numbers and blocked their facebook accounts, haha.
You have zero obligations to let someone who deeply hurt you back in your life again. They had their chance and blew it.
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What Are the Spiritual Benefits of Forgiveness?
Now let’s talk about the spiritual benefits of forgiveness. These reasons perfectly explain why letting go is beneficial to you and your life.
By hanging onto old injuries, you’re damaging your personal growth in the process. Stop that right now! You’re wonderful and deserve so, so, so much more in your one chance on this planet. Do it for you.
For this post, I came up with five tangible benefits of forgiveness, and how these results can send your life in a much better direction.
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1. Lowered Stress and Anxiety Levels
First and foremost, forgiveness is wonderful for your physical health.
Your anxiety plummets like a stone after going through the forgiveness process. I’ll give you a few examples.
Since I’ve started mentally healing old wounds, my sleep has improved tremendously. I’ve stopped needed to take melatonin on a regular basis, and even need my alarm clock to wake me in the mornings. I feel refreshed and ready for my pot of coffee.
Not to mention, my rosacea has cleared up. My skin is positively glowing. While a trip to the dermatologist had something to do with my fresh skin, loosing excessive stress over other people’s poor behaviors has definitely made my complexion shiny and pretty, and I feel confident looking into the mirror again.
All in all, forgiveness will heal your body in addition to your mind.
2. Stronger Compassion and Empathy for Others
After experiencing forgiveness, you’ll probably feel super empathic and kind toward people who’ve endured similar situations as you.
A few years ago, I usually expected people to immediately bounce back from romantic disappointments. “What’s the big deal?” I thought on more than one occasion. “She’s so much better off without that slug.”
However, once I went through my own problems, I realized how hard it is to move beyond a broken heart. I’m a more understanding friend regarding these life events, and find that I listen to other people a lot more than I used to in the past.
As someone with stronger compassion, you’ll positively impact the lives of people who interact with you, and feel better about yourself and your life’s purpose.
3. Increased Self-Esteem
When horrible events and people no longer control you, your self-esteem will sky rocket to Mars and beyond. I’m not even kidding. The change is so strong that it’s almost tangible.
As for me, I’ve been feeling great about the progress that I have made in the last couple of months with my business and blog. I hope to double my earnings by next October. I doubt I’d feel this empowered with baggage still dragging me into the ground.
I also feel more confident in building friendships and exploring new and old hobbies such as reading and hiking. I don’t feel the urge to jump into any rocky or unsafe situations. I’m a place of comfort. Am I 100% awesome? No, but certainly a million times better.
At the end of the day, forgiveness totally sets you free as far as confidence and self-love are concerned.
4. More Energy to Exercise, Meditate, and Love Life
Bitterness, without a doubt, deflates your energy.
For example, when I’ve had bad things happen to me, all I wanted to do was eat unhealthy takeout from Grubhub and mindlessly watch Youtube videos that I’ve already seen a million times.
Now I can focus on meditation before I go to bed. I also have enough energy to work out three times a week, and I hope my dedication to exercise continues into the foreseeable future.
The world is just so much more vibrant without clinging to bitterness.
5. Better Relationships to Nourish the Soul
Forgiveness allows you to build stronger relationships with high quality people.
What do I mean by “high quality people?” I mean, individuals with a purpose and who are so sure of themselves that they don’t need to resort to toxic behaviors in order to drag someone else into a bottomless pit of anxiety. And to meet those good people, you need to heal the wounds of your past.
After all, Positive people, the ones who have fantastic standards and strong emotional goals, aren’t going to associate with bitterness. Why would they?
As fun as it is to talk drama, great people don’t want to be surrounded by anger and resentfulness all the time. You’ll find amazing friends once you find the power to forgive.
So. Worth. It.
Whew, that’s all, folks! I hoped that I convinced you that forgiveness sets you free! What advice would you give someone working through the process of forgiveness? How has the practice benefitted your life.