Forgiveness is the inner act of making peace with the past and of finally closing accounts.
Letting go of the past, in order to be free and grateful in the present, allows us to make good choices that contribute to our health and well-being in all areas of our lives. This is why we must practice constant forgiveness and atonement. When asked how to have a happy marriage, teacher and philosopher Joel Goldsmith suggests that,” continuous forgiveness on a daily basis is essential for all our relationships; forgiveness simply has to be a part of every day’s experience.” Mary Manin Morrissey wrote in her book, Building Your Field of Dreams that every morning, shortly after waking up, we should ask ourselves who we must forgive this day. An ancient adage states that, “withholding forgiveness is like drinking a vial of poison and expecting the other person to die.“ We are surely poisoning ourselves when we harbor resentment and carry anger in our souls.
Usually people who are forgiving are better able to manage their anger, feel less hurt and are generally more optimistic. They are able to practice forgiveness in a variety of situations, they tend to be more compassionate and self-confident. Additionally, their stress levels are low and their vitality is high.
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a “conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness or not.”
Forgiveness brings us peace of mind and frees us from “dangerous” anger. Although it is not clear, whether or not true forgiveness necessarily means that we are going to feel completely positive toward those who have caused us harm; what is clear however, is that we are cleansed of deep negative feelings that end up causing us more harm than good.
Our personal level of happiness are also intertwined with the act of forgiving. Research also suggests that the happier the person is in his/her own life the more likely he/she is willing to let things go-especially at times when the relationship is very close between the persons involved. If we decide to dwell on grudges and allow them to be a constant reality in our lives, most definitely our blood pressure and heart rate will go up, causing great damage to our physical and emotional health. This is not to say that, we can always thoroughly forgive the trespasses of others. It all depends on the level of injury a person or group of people may have caused in our lives. If we are guilty of similar actions or possess some of these traits, we must first practice to forgive ourselves. Carl Jung, the brilliant turn-of-the-century Swiss psychiatrist, said that “everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” Self-forgiveness as a prerequisite for forgiving others is the core concept in the traditional Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono. Our blame and judgment of others’ faults, for which we think we need to forgive them, are actually being driven by memories embedded so deeply in our own subconscious minds that we are not usually aware of them. Our conscious mind is not really blaming others, says Dr. Hew Len, who practices Ho’oponopono continuously throughout the day; the subconscious memories deep inside our cells are blaming others. Thus, the way to forgive another is to forgive ourselves — not the other way around.