This article has everything you need to know about how to overcome unforgiveness.
One of the secrets for leading good and peaceful life is knowing how to forgive those who wrong or offend us.
However, forgiving is not an easy act for forgiving is like responding with kindness to evil. When we are offended, we are hurt.
We have thoughts and feelings of anger, resentment, revenge, and the like. These are all negative and have their own consequences in life.
Forgiving lets you free from all these.
However difficult it is, overcoming our inability to forgive is essential to leading a good and peaceful life.
In this an article I explore how to overcome this weakness and inculcate the value of forgiveness. As such, text contains valuable and factual information that will benefit every reader.
Not being able to forgive those who offend us gives rise to unforgiveness. When you are wronged or offended, you are hurt.
You have thoughts and feelings against the offender such as resenting, being angry, and being revengeful.
And, you find it difficult to forgive the offender. However, these thoughts and feelings associated with unforgiveness are all harmful to the health of your mind and body.
Unforgiveness is a weakness that most of us suffer from. It makes you dwell on negative thoughts and feelings.
These negativities interfere with your life and disable you from leading a good and peaceful life. Many people are not aware of the harms that unforgiveness can cause in them.
For those who can not forgive, they need to learn how to overcome it and be able to forgive.
Unforgiveness may simply be defined as holding a grudge against the person who has wronged or offended you.
By holding a grudge against him or her, you resent, feel angry, become revengeful and also harbour other related negative feelings and thoughts.
All these do not have any positive consequences and lead only to negative results, which affect your life more than any other’s.
Negative thoughts and feelings blind your vision and paralyze all those good things that you have. Moreover, negativity breeds negativity and you can enter into a labyrinth of negativities.
Consequently, you will fail to see things rightly and start making wrong decisions, making life horrible.
One way of understanding unforegiveness is by relating it to lack of compassion for self and others. We can not forgive because we do not have compassion for the person to be forgiven.
Often, people forgive their near and dear ones, while they do not do so with others. The only reason behind such an act is the special love that they have for their own people.
When you are offended or wronged, you can always react in one of these two ways – forgive the wrongdoer or do not forgive him or her.
The choice is yours.
You choose unforgiveness when you do not have compassion for the person to be forgiven. Every one of us has experienced this freedom of choice.
As thoughts and feelings associated with unforgiveness are all harmful, these only serve bad purposes. These negative thoughts and feelings can be held indeed as responsible for one’s inability to forgive others.
This is to say that these thoughts are the very cause of unforgiveness. Sanctifying yourself and freeing yourself from negativities is therefore necessary.
Unforgiveness is but a collection of bitter thoughts and feelings that you allow to stay inside you. Harboring such negative elements is but a crime against yourself and others.
Analogy can be made to terrorism harbored in any country, which is a crime against the law of the country and also against international law as well.
In both the cases, the results are destructive and not constructive. It is not difficult to see that terrorism is harmful for terrorists themselves and for people in general.
Same is the picture for unforgiveness also. So, unforgiveness can be looked upon as a sin against divinity or as a crime against man.
Consequences of unforgiveness
We have seen that unforgiveness is associated with negative thoughts and feelings and it leads to
negative results only. What lies at the origin of unforgiveness is also negativity.
So, we can say that unforgiveness begins with negativity and ends with negativity.
Frustration, anger, violence, resenting, depression, vengeance – these are just some of the thoughts and feelings that unforgiveness brings about.
These thoughts and feelings are all bitter and harmful. When these are inside you, you are bound to be harmed mentally, physically, and spiritually too.
Unforgiveness amounts to confining yourself in a stressful situation, which hinders functioning of mind and body.
As studies show, stress is associated with diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.
Depression in uforgiveness can also become serious forms of mental disorders such as major depression and hallucination.
As such, anxiety and depression weaken mental ability and therefore hinder normal functioning of the mind.
Negative feelings in unforgiveness can also lead to impairing cognitive and social behavior of the person, interfering with normal life.
How to overcome unforgiveness
Not to forgive the offender is the general tendency that most of the people have.
Their idea is that the wrongdoer deserves punishment. They are right in their own place.
This is perhaps one of the simplest explanations for why people are mostly unforgiving. To overcome unforgiveness, one has to go against the above-mentioned idea.
It will be going against oneself.
So, overcoming unforgiveness is, if not impossible, really a difficult task. In the eyes of those who can not forgive, forgiving amounts to justifying a wrong action of the wrongdoer.
So, they will not accept it, they will only insist on not forgiving.
Forgiving the wrongdoer will indeed appear to amount to a double fault they would be making to themselves: forgiving someone while it is necessary to punish him or her amounts to making a double fault.
When these ideas, forgiving or letting things go hurts their own ego and pride. So, they will not be ready to forgive and make “unforgiveness” their own.
This will result to inviting all those negative thoughts and feelings associated with unforgivenes. And, they will become home to these negativities, which will possess them, blind them, and ruin them.
Being able to forgive those who wrong us is one of the secrets for leading a good life. Those who can wrong us are not only others but also ourselves.
Sometimes, we make mistakes to ourselves. On the other hand, not being able to forgive or unforgiveness leads to making life horrible and worthless.
Negative thoughts and feelings such as resentment, revenge, and hatred in unforgiveness are all injurious to mind and body and can have severe consequences.
So, it is necessary to overcome our inability to forgive others and/or ourselves. Once we overcome unforgiveness and make forgiveness our own, we can lead a peaceful and successful life.
If we divide people in two categories – those who forgive and those do not forgive -, we will find that most of the people belong to the second category.
Unforgiveness is the general reaction that people have when they are offended: compared to forgiveness, it is easier. That is why there are more people in the second category.
They may or may not be aware of immediate and potential harms that unforgiveness can bring about in their life.
Forgiving is not an easy act.
Once you are able to do it – to self and/or others -, you will be able to free yourself from all those potential harms associated with unforgiveness.
When you forgive others, you also experience a feeling that is divinely. In order to live a good and peaceful life, we should overcome unforgiveness and inculcate the value of forgiveness.
Forgiving is divine
Unforgiveness amounts to nurturing negative thoughts and feelings, which are harmful to mental, physical and spiritual health.
Anger, frustration, resenting, depression, thoughts for revenge, and the like work within and against you when you retain unforgiveness.
Certain diseases and mental disorders are also linked to these negative thoughts and feelings of unforgiveness.
So, we should learn how to overcome it and be able to forgive. Here we are exploring forgiveness, which is the natural solution to unforgiveness.
If unforgiveness is an all negativity, forgiveness is an all positivity. Forgiveness not only brings about positive results but also enlightens us.
Let us first see what forgiveness consists in.
What is forgiveness
Forgiveness consists in letting go all the negative thoughts and feelings of unforgiveness and not allowing these to interfere with our life.
Simply put, forgiveness consists in not allowing what has happened to have any negative impact upon you.
In another way, forgiveness is recognizing that the fact that you can not undo what has happened and there is no point in holding a grudge against the person who has wronged you.
Forgiveness is also elevating yourself at a higher level spiritually. In other words, it is a hallmark of your spiritual maturity and humility.
Having said all these, let us also see the followings, which are truths about forgiveness.
1. Forgiveness is not a justification of the wrong done. Forgiving someone does not mean at all that the wrong he or she did is justified or minimized. It neither means that the wrongdoer is not held responsible for the offence.
2. Forgiveness is knowing well how to react positively. Forgiveness is understanding that being angry, violent, resentful, and revengeful are all negative and harm us and others. It is understanding that this is not the right way of reacting when we are offended or wronged by others.
3. Forgiveness is understanding that unforgiveness locks you up in negativities, which can have severe consequences at all the three levels: mind, body and spirituality.
4. Forgiveness is also accepting people as they are (1) but not allowing their wrong behaviour to have any influence in your life. You let it go.
5. Forgiveness is not forgetting the wrong done to you. It is neither reconciliation. However, reconciliation can be considered to underline or presume forgiveness to some extent.
We are all human beings and make mistakes.
Everybody in this world has been offended at one time or the other. It is simply impossible for human beings not to wrong each other – intentional or unintentional.
In such a situation, holding a grudge against one another does not help at all. Holding a grudge brings about thoughts and feelings of anger, revenge, resentments, etc., which are all negative.
These can lead to severe consequences such as mental disorders and other diseases. These negative thoughts and feelings harm you more than anybody else.
Forgiving is letting go all these potentially harmful thoughts and feelings and not allowing these to have any effects on you.
On the contrary, allowing these to come into life through unforgiveness is nothing less than preparing yourself to be spoiled.
So, the right choice is forgiveness.
Forgive those, who offend you, irrespective of who they are and how they offend you. Forgiving immediately removes all those negative thoughts and feelings within you.
You are no longer bonded by these negativities. The result is that you lead good and peaceful life. What follows describes some benefits of forgiveness.
Benefits of forgiveness
Forgiveness is a positive action.
Therefore, it leads to positive results only. Forgiveness can be considered in terms of the forgiver, the forgiven and the relation between these two.
However, the most concerned is the forgiver. When the forgiver forgives the forgiven, it does well to all the three – the forgiver, the forgiven, and the relation between them.
The one who benefits most is the forgiver.
Forgiveness removes all negative thoughts and feelings and sets the forgiver free, saving his or her life from getting ruined.
On the other hand, the forgiven gets a good chance to realize his or her own mistake. He or she learns and prepares not to wrong to any fellowmen again.
When forgiveness prevails between the forgiver and the forgiven, their relation becomes more strengthened and healthier than it was before.
Besides, forgiveness also leads to bringing about understanding, empathy, compassion and other positive qualities in both the forgiver and the forgiven.
As we saw earlier, unforgiveness gives rise to several negative thoughts and feelings, which are all injurious to health.
Negative thoughts and feelings have their own consequences, which can be severe too. Forgiveness let’s all these go: it frees you from these potentially harmful negativities.
Thus, you no longer have all those health risks associated with these. Forgiving therefore generates peace, love, and harmony. It strengthens you mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Visualize forgiving as purifying yourself.
Studies have found that those who forgive are happier and healthier than those resent and do not forgive.
Forgiving is so effective that only thinking about forgiving lightens your heart, improves your cardiovascular system and nervous system.
Forgiving is indeed divine.
We all should make forgiving our own. What follows summarizes the benefits of forgiving.
1. Forgiving sets you free from all those negativities that were binding you.
Negativities breed negativities. In negativity, the general tendency is to see more and more negativity and then enter into a spiral.
It may never be possible to come out of the spiral. Forgiving brings positivity in and makes it impossible for you to fall into such spirals.
2. Forgiving brings about good thoughts, feelings, and emotions such as love, understanding, and empathy.
All these only serve to strengthen bonds and leads to better and peaceful life for everyone. One great benefit of forgiveness is improved health.
When you forgive, you no longer suffer from depression, tension, anger, resentment, and the like, which are associated with unforgiveness.
Consequently, this leads to improving your health. Mentally, physically, and also spiritually, you become now healthier than you were before.
3. You no longer run the risk of having diseases associated with negativities of unforgiveness.
Harbouring anger, hatred, thoughts of revenge, resentment etc. is but increasing risks for having various diseases including heart ailments and mental disorders.
4. Forgiveness leads to improved relationship between the forgiver and the forgiven.
Relationship usually becomes stronger than before as it is now grounded on more understanding, empathy and compassion.
5. Forgiveness also increases your self-esteem.
On the other hand, forgiving someone is like making a step towards perfection onto the divine path.
How to forgive someone?
When we are wronged, we have three options. This is to say that we can react in three ways.
First, we can opt not to react. Considering “not reacting” as a way of reacting should not confuse us. Secondly, we can opt to forgive. Thirdly, we can opt not to forgive.
As we have seen already, it is the second option that we should choose for that is the right option. We are all human beings, who err.
In this world, it is therefore inevitable that we can wrong others and others too can wrong us.
When the injustice (wrong) is done to us or to others, the general tendency is to be angry, revengeful, resentful, and not to forgive the offender.
When these thoughts and feelings of unforgiveness overpower you, these lead to your systematic destruction. We saw this already when we discussed the consequences of unforgiveness.
So, the right thing to do, when somebody wrongs you, is for forgive him or her. Forgiving the offender is doing good to yourself.
However, forgiving the offender is a difficult act.
Forgiving consists in responding with kindness to evil – at least in the eyes of those who can not forgive. However difficult forgiveness is, it is a virtue that we all can learn about and acquire.
The prerequisite condition in acquiring such a value is a complete understanding of forgiveness and also of unforgiveness.
Through discussions we have had in previous chapters, we already know what these are thoroughly. When we know what these are, our tendency will be automatically to go for forgiveness.
To materialize this tendency or change it into action, we need willingness to forgive. Besides, emotions such as empathy, love, and compassion also help in accomplishing forgiveness.
However, how-to-go-about it or the method depends on the personality of the forgiver in question. What works for a person may not do so for another.
Whatever be the steps to be followed, forgiving consists in breaking walls of narrow thoughts and letting you free from their bondage.
What follows describes how to forgive, rather how to be able to forgive others and also oneself.
Step 1. Understand the ill consequences of not forgiving.
As we have seen, not forgiving amounts to harboring negative thoughts and feelings, which are all destructive.
Having good knowledge about what happens when you do not forgive helps you in enabling to forgive.
Step 2. Understand that we are all human beings and human beings make mistakes.
Accept that, knowingly or unknowingly, we offend others and/or get offended in life. Understand therefore that getting angry, being revengeful, and resenting when you are offended is not justified.
The best policy lies in letting these thoughts and feelings go.
Step 3. Understand that forgiving is helping you to come out of negative thoughts and feelings that can ruin your life totally.
Understand that the offensive event has happened and gone, you can not undo it.
So, it is useless to hover over this past event and fill yourself up, at the same time, with negative thoughts, which have far reaching consequences in your life.
Step 4. Realize that forgiveness is the right path.
To come out of your sorry situation, you have to move onto this path of forgiveness.
As such, this is the only path available to you, which leads to freeing yourself from bitterness and resentment of unforgiveness.
Step 5. Realize that forgiving the offender and not allowing any negative thoughts and feelings such as being revengeful, resentful, hateful are, in a way, nothing but the best revenge you can take against the offender.
Leading a good and successful life by not allowing negative thoughts to interfere with life is indeed the best way of revenging the offender.
This is possible when you make use of forgiveness.
Step 6. Similarly, the second best revenge consists in changing negativity into positivity.
To illustrate the idea, let us take one example. We know that anger is destructive (2).
However, if we know how to control and harness anger, we can channelize the energy for good purposes. Look upon the unfortunate event as an opportunity for forgiveness.
When you are able to forgive, you master all those negativities contained in unforgiveness.
Step 7. Be willing to forgive.
Going through the above steps will make you automatically feel like forgiving the offender.
These steps will let you realize that you have been on the wrong track if you have not forgiven yet. You may even feel that you have been indeed torturing yourself by not forgiving the offender.
This is to say that you will feel like forgiving. So, be willing to forgive.
Step 8. Take a decision to forgive the person who has wronged you.
Taking a decision can be difficult. However, if you have been following all the steps sincerely, it will not be difficult to take a decision.
Be cool and calm in taking your decision. Allow yourself to take your own time.
Never make a hasty decision. Once you decide to forgive your offender, stick to your decision.
Step 9. Execute your decision.
Forgive the offender and set yourself free from the clutch of negative thoughts and feelings that have been burdening you.
Feel afresh and feel new energy flowing in.
Positive developments will soon begin in all spheres of life including relationship with others. You now get all the benefits of forgiveness.
Apart from what has been described in these 9 steps, having self-respect, concern for others, compassion, love and empathy help in enabling us to forgive our offenders.
Forgiveness makes us self-complacent too. Being able to forgive others is divine.
As you have read, we can see that not forgiving others is detrimental to our beings.
We only inflict pain on ourselves when we don’t forgive. It eats away at our souls, our core, even our humanity.
But on the other side when we walk in forgiveness we have more peace, we let go of resentment and the anger that seeds into hatred.
It isn’t always an easy thing to do, but it is a necessary habit we must learn to practice. In this way our lives will be much better to cope with.
I hope this article about how to overcome unforgiveness was able to help you to on your journey to forgive.
This is only another tool to add to your utility belt in forgiveness. I belive you find the peace and guidance you are looking for.