The Power of Forgiveness: Letting Go of Anger and Resentment for a Happier Life

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Are you holding onto anger, negative feelings and resentment towards someone who has wronged you?

We’ve all been there…

The kid who bullied you in school…

The colleague who spread negative talk about you or your work…

That one particular ex who got away with far too much…

When your parent(s) didn’t show up for you: physically, emotionally, mentally…

People who have hurt, used or abused you…

Forgiveness may seem like a daunting task – it may even sound like a nice pretty bow on top of some bs – but it can also be a powerful tool that can lead to a happier, lighter life. Sometimes it’s just good to know when to let the sh*t go.

So let’s talk about it and feel free to share your thoughts on forgiveness, or if you’ve also been struggling with the heaviness bitterness or anger.

The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

Research has shown that holding onto feelings of anger and resentment can have negative effects on our physical and mental health. This is due to the extra stress our bodies are put under by rehashing, ruminating, and re-experiencing the event over and over.

This needs to happen in order to keep the resentment and anger alive but some may recognise the exhausting, blood boiling or upsetting feelings present during and after this mental process.

In fact, it can lead to an increase in chronic stress, lingering anxiety, and depression.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, has been linked to a reduction in stress, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and an overall improvement in well-being. But forgiveness isn’t just about letting go of negative emotions towards others and ignoring the past. It’s also about forgiving ourselves for past mistakes and moving forward with a sense of acceptance and peace.

It’s about giving grace, letting go of dead weight and freeing ourselves of people, places and times that no longer serve us.

How to Practice Forgiveness

Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort. Here are 9 tips to help you practice forgiveness:

  1. Acknowledge your emotions: Before you can forgive, it’s important to acknowledge and process your emotions. Take some time to reflect on how you’re feeling and why. Write down your thoughts in a journal or talk to a trusted friend or therapist.
  2. Practice empathy: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective. This can help you gain a better understanding of their actions and motivations, and make it easier to forgive.
  3. Let go of resentment: Holding onto feelings of anger and resentment will only hurt you in the long run. Let go of these negative emotions and focus on moving forward with forgiveness and compassion. 
  4. Practice self-forgiveness: Don’t forget to forgive yourself for past mistakes. We all make mistakes, and it’s important to show ourselves the same compassion and understanding that we offer others. Try this free guided meditation to get started with self-compassion.
  5. Ask for Forgiveness: Take responsibility for any harm done and seek forgiveness through restorative conversationsand making amends – receiving forgiveness may not always be verbal confirmation from others but can still be felt.
  6. Write about your forgiveness in a journal: talk to the person who’d like to forgive in a journal. A great journal exercise for this is the ”A Letter I will Never Send” exercise. We’ve got a step-by-step post on how to write an unsent letter, detailing why this therapeutic exercise is so effective – try it for yourself!
  7. Write about your anger and resentment: Try to understand, validate, process and release any unresolved anger. This can be a difficult process but gives room for negative thoughts, increases self-awareness and taps into any core wounds
  8. Anchor into the present: Anger and resentment keep us stuck in the past and missing out on our current lives. Focus on the present moment. You can do this by practicing mindfulness. 
  9. Seek professional help: Trying to forgive or learning to let go of something you’ve been holding onto for a very long time can be hard or even risky alone. Releasing anger and resentment, especially when there is trauma or someone close involved is naturally complex. Seek support from non-judgmental professional services to unpack any stuck emotions and think about resentment and forgiveness with a deeper, personal purpose.

    Did you know we offer support here at Loving Therapy? As part of The Global Therapy Room’s passion project for accessible wellness and teachable tools, we run events regularly and curate free resources for all to use. Click here for the latest offerings.

The Benefits of Forgiveness

The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

Forgiveness isn’t just about letting go of negative emotions. It has a wide range of benefits for our physical and mental health:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Lowers levels of depression
  • Reduces ‘thought spirals’ and rumination
  • Improves physical health, including lowered blood pressure and reduced chronic pain
  • Reduces inflammation 
  • Helps the nervous system regulate 
  • Increases feelings of self-compassion
  • Self-forgiveness increases self-love and self-esteem 
  • Increases empathy and compassion towards others
  • Increases feelings of happiness and well-being

Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort. By letting go of negative emotions towards others and ourselves, we open ourselves up to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Ask yourself: am I ready to let go?

Letting go is an essential aspect of achieving inner peace. However, it is not always easy to do so, particularly when dealing with feelings of hostility towards someone who wronged you. It’s important to check with ourselves honestly; am I ready to forgive and let this go? 

”I like to call anger – the advocate emotion. It lets us know when we have been wronged or that something just isn’t right here and it charges us with this fiery energy to do something about it.

It’s like an alarm system we may not like to listen to, but its telling us something important.”

– Tanisha Rose Ripp MA. AThR.

We might force ourselves to excuse their past actions, but forgiveness means genuinely releasing the negative emotions that we hold onto.

Sometimes, the offender might still be a constant presence in our lives, and if they are harmful, or emotionally abusive, this could lead to further feelings of hurt and emotional abuse. 

However, no matter how difficult it may be to be at such a crossroads, it is crucial to ask yourself if you are ready to let go of the grudges that you hold onto.

When you are ready, perhaps have found safer spaces or environments, a good support system, and better connections… You can then revisit the decision to take steps towards forgiveness as a way we can release the negativity and find peace. 

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, as challenging as it may be to release the emotions that come with a past spat or negative experiences, learning to let go can bring about inner calm and a sense of relief. Forgiving someone is not about letting them off the hook – it’s about releasing dead weight and seeking greater peace.

You don’t have to navigate the woods of emotions alone! Seek support and professional care to help to work through more complex cases. 

Don’t force forgiveness – you need to be ready to let go and do so from a space of internal peace and safety. This might hard to do when the offender is still in your life causing harm. 

If nothing else, exploring forgiveness is key purely by developing a more loving relationship with self through self-compassion. 

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