What forgiveness does not mean: Forgetting the past, letting someone off the hook or simply a verbal bandage on a wound that still hasn’t healed. It goes much deeper than that; it is more of a letting go. Radio host Bernard C. Meltzer once said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past—but you sure do change the future.” How can you change your future by forgiving the past?
Start to contemplate this by asking yourself these questions:
What does holding onto my anger do for me?
Does revenge make me feel better?
Have I been granted forgiveness in the past?
How is my anger affecting my health?
A recent issue of Family Therapy magazine outlines the health outcomes of learning to forgive as:
- Reducing anger—anger and hostility are risk factors for many diseases, especially heart disease
- Promoting interpersonal relationships, which can lead to overall better health
- Enhancing religious affiliation through a positive spiritual experience, which also has been associated with improved health and longevity
- Increasing social support—more support equals better health outcomes, less depression and a longer life
- Decreasing mortality due to many of the reasons outlined above
Where do I start? The article mentions the intent to forgive as a good starting place. Intentions are powerful igniters of long-term goals. So, it may take weeks, months or years to forgive or let go, but choosing a path that leads you in that direction may be a wise decision.