Forgiveness 101 (And How it Helps Your Physical and Mental Health)


By understanding forgiveness and how to forgive, we set ourselves up to be healthier and happier!


Topic Of Discussion

For as often as we might hear the term forgiveness in our daily lives, it can be difficult to actually forgive someone, especially if the hurt we’re feeling is fresh. As a concept, forgiveness might even be difficult to understand since it’s sometimes confused with different terms in everyday conversation. So read on for a forgiveness primer! Understanding forgiveness might just be the first step towards reaping the physical and mental health benefits that come along with forgiving!

Understanding forgiveness vs. acceptance

An important first step in the process of forgiving someone is to accept them, but often, acceptance gets confused with forgiveness. Understanding the difference can be helpful:

  • Acceptance is coming to terms with someone hurting you
  • Forgiveness is moving on from someone hurting you

Acceptance can exist without forgiveness, but forgiveness can’t exist without acceptance. If you’re going to forgive, you must first accept. 

How to forgive

If you can accept, but you’re reluctant to forgive someone who hurt you, you’re not alone. It’s normal to experience big, often painful, emotions after experiencing hurt. Allow yourself time (sometimes…a lot of time, depending on how big the hurt was) to feel your feelings and process them. Using a tool like the feelings wheel can help with identifying, and getting specific about, what you’re feeling. This can free you to discuss your feelings in detail with your support system or a mental health professional. While it’s normal for fear and anger to dominate your feelings in the immediate aftermath of being hurt, exploring the other feelings that may lie underneath those initial feelings might help you on the path to feeling more peaceful. 

Why forgiveness?

Not only can forgiveness help you feel more peaceful, research shows that it can actually be good for your health. By forgiving someone, and eliminating the stress that comes with feeling fearful of, or angry with, them, research shows that health benefits can include:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower blood pressure
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem

Life after forgiving

Not only can forgiveness improve your health, it can also improve your life. Forgiving can help:

  • Ensure that you don’t bring feelings of bitterness or resentment into other relationships
  • Release you from the control of the person who hurt you, allowing you to start fresh
  • Perhaps cultivate your compassion for others by understanding why someone hurt you

Wrapping up

As mentioned, the road to forgiveness can be a long one, proportionate to the extent of the hurt we’ve experienced. If you need help as you navigate your feelings, reach out to us at Tri-Star Counseling, where we’re prepared to hear you and offer tools and support towards healing.

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