What Motivates Us to Forgive:
What is your first reaction when somebody hurts or betrays you? Of course, you feel anger and betrayal, which may turn to hate over time. You keep thinking vengeful thoughts for that person, such as, “May he rot!” Or “I will repay them tit for tat.” It’s not so incredible to have such grudges as we are all emotional and social beings seeking a human connection, no matter our differences.
But many proclaim forgiving someone will be the true salvation in the end. So, what motivates us to forgive? Is forgiveness really that important a concept? There must be something to forgiveness if different cultures worldwide have practiced it for centuries. But the act of forgiveness is by no means easy.
Because when you hold onto your anger or resentment against someone, it acts as a shield of comfort, letting you bind your anxiety around the difficulties that relationships bring to your life. Let’s explore the challenging idea of forgiving an individual who wronged you, starting with forgiveness, its psychology, and the 7 reasons why we should forgive.
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the intentional process by which you change your whole attitude and feelings about an offense, letting go of negative emotions. You can even forswear asking for compensation, however justified it might be. It’s all a voluntary action, and during this, you let go of a grudge or may even accept an apology. Remember! Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the offending party’s actions were okay; it just means that you are ready to move on from the situation.
Furthermore, there is a great difference between forgiving and forgetting. Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean you forget what they did. You don’t want to feel hurt anymore, but forgiving is not the same as forgetting. No harm in being careful and keeping your distance from situations or people who tend to affect you negatively. So, you offer your mercy, and don’t forget, still moving forward in your life.
Psychology of Forgiveness:
How do you explain the psychology of the act of forgiveness? Why do we forgive? Psychologists usually describe forgiveness as a consciously made choice to let go of hateful and angry sentiments toward a person or group who has wronged you. It doesn’t matter whether they truly deserve your forgiveness or not. You do this to make yourself at peace, as forgiving others positively impacts all your life aspects, whether it’s your health, self-respect, or social life.
Did you Know?
Research shows that the three sources of forgiveness, another person, oneself, and a situation or circumstance reduce a person’s negative feelings and also offer many mental health benefits. Moreover, when you forgive others, you live longer, as it reduces your stress level. Let’s further see what motivates us to forgive.
7 Reasons Why We Should Forgive!
People will give you many reasons to motivate you to forgive others who hurt you in some way, but the true purpose of forgiveness lies within you. It is tough to let go of those intense and angry emotions. Here are the genuine 7 reasons why we should forgive.
1. You Get Contentment and Inner Peace:
You don’t know how burdened you are with resentment or anger until you shed that burden. Carrying that negative energy eats you inside over time, even if you deny or ignore this truth. So, how can you hope to achieve true inner peace if you can’t forgive someone who has hurt you or even yourself for mistakes made in the past? The best way to have lasting contentment is to forgive others and move on with your life, letting go of the past.
2. You Grow Up Positively!
You may not even know what you are carrying around inside or how many grudges you have got stored inside you. They take up space negatively. You see, when someone hurts us with words or actions, we often carry the weight of someone else’s negativity with us on our shoulders. It’s crazy to think that bottled-up anger or hatred inside of us creates havoc in our hearts and minds. The trick is to free up your soul by pardoning others or yourself for any wrong done. Only then you can have positive growth within yourself.
3. Your Physical Health Improves:
Offering forgiveness gives you real physical health benefits. Surprised? It’s true. Studies suggest that when you forgive, your blood pressure lowers, improving your heart health and immune system. Thus, forgiving is excellent for your physical health and is a documented reality (Harris & Thoresen, 2005; Worthington & Scherer, 2004).
4. Your Mental Health Improves:
Harboring anger, hate, or resentment might be detrimental to your mental health in the long run. Whether you admit it or not, the issue still exists. Only by forgiving those who have hurt you, you open yourself up to more positive emotions and experiences. There is documented evidence regarding the mental health benefits of forgiving (Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2000; Toussaint & Webb, 2005) and the increase in life satisfaction (Karremans, Van Lange, Ouwerkerk, & Kluwer, 2003).
5. You Learn Empathy
It is easy to be angry at someone for any harm they caused you, intentionally or unintentionally. But what if you were standing in their shoes? How would you have felt? Just imagine for a moment. Let’s face it, we are all humans, and we sometimes make mistakes that we are not proud of. You might have even disappointed friends or family members at some point in your life. If you were in the offender’s place, you would also want others to forgive you for any wrongdoing or misunderstanding. So, learn some empathy; it will help you become a better person.
6. You Become A Stronger Person:
People might think forgiving someone or yourself is easy, but it’s not. It requires a lot of moral courage to let go of unpleasant feelings to gain that much-needed peace and happiness. Some people might mistake your forgiveness as a weakness, but in reality, it’s a sign of strength. You are showing compassion to another human being, becoming a stronger person along the way. Even the renowned Mahatma Gandhi reiterated this fact with this quote,
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
7. You Heal Yourself Spiritually:
Holding onto negative emotions is like drinking poison and hoping another person suffers. This mentality or feeling causes you more harm than to those who hurt you. If you think your stored anger helps you in your life to come on top of any challenging situation, you are being delusional. Such hate and anger mostly become toxic, destroying your soul. You should let go of your grudges to heal yourself by forgiving others.
On a Side Note!
A recent study tried to find the motivations for forgiveness among the general public. Can you believe the coincidence? 7 themes emerged as the leading reasons as to what motivates us to forgive. The number resonates with the 7 reasons we discussed above, but the motivations were mixed.
How is Forgiveness an Act of Freedom?
Surely, forgiveness is an act of freedom. You say to yourself, “I won’t let myself suffer from the hurt caused by others or my past actions, and will just forgive.”
This forgiveness is your freedom. Because when you forgive the painful events of your past, they no longer control your present or define your future. So you take life’s pitfalls as opportunities to grow instead of being sources of despair and reclaim your life by simply forgiving. This answers the mystery, “What motivates us to forgive?”
The world of full of stress, worries, and unhappiness. What you can do is make your inner world, your soul, a peaceful and lovely place by forgiving not just others who offended you but also yourself for any past mistakes or regrets. Then you can spread love and positivity around you by giving other human beings another chance at redemption. It will heal you from the inside, this process of forgiveness, and make you a better version of yourself. A famous American podcast host about motivation and lifestyle, you might even know the name Melanie Robbins, quotes about forgiveness in this manner,
“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”
– Mel Robbins
Q. Does forgiveness first require an apology?
Ans: No, forgiveness doesn’t first require an apology; instead, it is an inward condition of letting go of bitterness and hatred. You don’t need to wait for an apology or even an admission of wrongdoing from your offender.
Q. What is the most important reason to forgive?
Ans: The most important reason to forgive is that it sets you free, letting go of all those negative emotions and making space for positive ones.
Q. What is the key to forgiveness?
Ans: The key to forgiveness is to first acknowledge you got hurt, then accept how it is harmfully affecting you, and in the end, let go by practicing compassion and offering forgiveness.
Q. What are the benefits of forgiveness?
· Better mental well-being.
· Less negative emotions.
· Less depression.
· Stronger and healthier relationships.
· A precious empathy.
· Improved heart health and blood pressure.
· Improved self-esteem, etc.
Q. Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?
Ans: No, forgiveness doesn’t guarantee reconciliation. Sometimes reconciliation might even be impossible if the offender doesn’t wish to interact with you or dies. In other cases, it might not be suitable, but you can still forgive.
Q. What are the consequences if you don’t forgive?
Ans: The negative consequences of not forgiving are many, such as emotional pain of anger, hate, hurt, resentment, bitterness, and so on. Studies suggest these negative emotions create health issues and affect relationships if left to fester.