“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The great leaders in world history have invariably stressed on the importance of forgiveness for peaceful coexistence as well as for our mental wellbeing. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Abraham Lincoln – the list is endless.
The common thread that runs in their teachings is how the act of forgiving elevates the stature of a person, as the famous English poet Alexander Pope succinctly puts it “To err is human, to forgive, divine.”
What You Need To Know About Forgiveness
The need for forgiveness arises when we feel wronged by someone. It is natural to feel hurt, resentment, sadness, disappointment, and aggrieved. However, it would do us well to remember that humans are prone to errors. People make mistakes that can end up offending others intentionally or unintentionally.
We aggravate the situation further by holding a grudge, considering it as an act of revenge. Does it hurt the instigator in any way? Maybe, maybe not. But, one thing is for sure. This act of holding a grudge hurts us the most. Does it give us any satisfaction or happiness or make our lives any better? Definitely no.
Our instinctive reaction to hurtful words or actions of others is to lash out at them with as much anger and venom as we can muster. Have we given any thought to how much our response hurts the other person? Or how much damage it inflicts on the relationship? When we allow this to go on unhindered, it will end up consuming us.
And not satisfied with this, we make it worse by playing victim, holding a grudge and hiding behind a wall of silence, refusing to even see eye to eye. Do any of these acts help us in healing? Not really.
Ultimately, time will heal the wounds. But by then the damage has been done. The relationship is done and dusted – shattered beyond repair. The years spent on nurturing the relationship gone to total waste because of a single act of alleged betrayal. Was our vengeful behavior worth it?
How about forgiving our own flaws and mistakes? When we are hard on others, we are the hardest on ourselves. Self-acceptance and self-forgiveness play a huge role in our state of mind. Peace of mind and happiness depends mostly on our ability to accept our imperfections and forgive our mistakes. The absence of these can lead to self-destructive behavior such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, eating disorders, or even suicide.
Now, let us list the benefits of forgiveness. A forgiving disposition can help us maintain healthy relationships with our near and dear ones. The most important outcome of a forgiving mind is the absence of bitterness and anger – a heart brimming with joy and serenity.
A kind and merciful nature no doubt aid our mental well-being. Numerous studies point to the undeniable link between the mind and body. It has been proven time and again the benefits of compassion and tolerance on our physical well-being. The lack of resentment and vindictive thoughts can make us stress-free, thus improving our immune system and health parameters.
You may also want to take a look at our guide on how to forgive yourself for something unforgivable.