“Forgive and forget.”
“To err is human, to forgive divine.”
We’ve all heard these aphorisms, but what is behind these simple words? What is the true meaning of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is not an action so much as a state of mind. It is important to understand that when you forgive, you do not forget or minimize a perceived wrong, discount its effect on you, or excuse the other person’s actions. Rather, you let go of the event and its effect on you in order to reduce your own discomfort and pain. As an example, a recent study examined the relationships between couples who experienced infidelity, and how forgiving affected their relationship. The findings were that those individuals who had a balanced view of the partner, who felt in control of their own emotions, and who live thoughtfully, were able to more easily forgive the erring partner and move on. They were less “stuck” in resentment and anger.
You can choose to keep a tight grip on resentment, but the cost is to become so wrapped up in the wrong that you live in the moment the wrong occurred, rather than in the present moment, your present situation. You experience more anger, depression and anxiety, thereby cutting yourself off from the healthy relationships in your current life.
You can instead choose to let go and forgive.
You may want to consider psychotherapy to help you take steps towards forgiveness, such as working through anger and resentment. We cannot truly forgive someone until we have done that.
Commit to the process of change and emotional growth. It will free up your energy for more good things in your life.