The power of forgiveness is undeniable. “When you hold a grudge, it impacts you with chronic stress and anger. It’s not good for your physical or spiritual health,” says Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a New York–based psychiatrist and Family Circle Health Advisory Board member. “But the benefit of releasing that grudge is lower blood pressure, lower stress, increased happiness and more.” So how do you actually forgive?
Step one should be establishing a forgiveness mind-set. “That simply means you recognize you can be angry or have a grudge without taking your love away from the other person,” explains Taylor. “You can forgive and work things out—not that there has to be a reconciliation. If there is, however, make sure you approach from a place of love, understanding and being understood.”
Step two is to take action. “If you feel strongly you need to say something or write something, then do so,” suggests Taylor. “But you can also take action within yourself by making a conscious decision to forgive the other person. Forgive them and send love to that space in your body so you can feel like you can move on.” This is particularly useful if the person you’re forgiving has passed away, for example. Light a candle, say a prayer, write a note that you never send and announce to yourself that the grudge is over.
This process is no different if you’re forgiving yourself instead of someone else—and may even be easier, notes Taylor. “Forgiving yourself and tapping into mindfulness and gratitude is one of the best things you can do for yourself. When you don’t forgive yourself, in some cases, you become the one who is abused—by yourself—and also the abuser.” To break out of that emotional trap, focus on staying in the here and now. Know you can’t go back and change the past, but make sure your mistake doesn’t happen again in the future. “You can change your thoughts and mind,” says Taylor. “That’s where your power is.”
Family Circle tapped the Partnership for a Healthier America to help bring you this easy—and fun—wellness challenge. Post an anonymous note forgiving someone today, March 13, 2016, on our Facebook pages or Twitter feeds with the hashtag #14DayChallenge and you could win a prize! No purchase necessary. Open to legal U.S. residents, 18+. Open to legal U.S. residents, 18+. See rules for complete details.
Photo Credit: Dean Schoeppner