Many of us believe that forgiveness is a religious obligation. As Christians, we are made to believe that if you fail to forgive someone for the pain he or she caused you, God will fail to forgive us for causing Him pains too. We also learnt that people who do not forgive others will not inherit the Kingdom of God. We also learnt that if you do not forgive, blessings will never come your way. Those that are more spiritual than many of us can also tell you how forgiveness cleanses and frees the soul so that the forgiver benefits more from the act than the person that was forgiven. All these points out the importance of forgiveness. And they are true; at least to the best of my knowledge.
But, then, are the points listed above the only benefits of forgiveness? Is forgiveness all about spirituality? Do we only have to forgive because we want to make Heaven or reap abundant blessings here on Earth? What other benefits does forgiveness have?
Fortunately, forgiveness is a virtue with benefits that span across all aspects of our lives. It doesn’t start and end with religion and spirituality. Our health, relationships, and growth depend on that simple act.
Forgiveness in Health
Forgiveness, as we all know, is the replacement of negative emotions towards wrongdoings with positive ones. It is letting go of the anger you have for an offense and grudges you bear the offender. This means that when you fail to forgive, you plunge yourself, and not the person that is not forgiven, into toxicity. You allow yourself to be eaten up by anger and pain, and if you leave them to stay longer, you are the one that will be miserable. Of course, when anger becomes too intense, it leads to crime, high blood pressure, anxiety, loss of control of your actions, loss of creativity, depression, wrong perception of objects and sounds, and so on. Imagine the impact these will have on your health and wellbeing just because you decided to hold onto your anger. By the end of the day, you will gain nothing but lose it all.
Forgiveness in Social Life
One thing you will agree with me about is that you avoid people you hold grudges for. You distance yourself from anything that has to do with them. You may even begin to say negative things about an offender without realizing the damages you are causing your image. Because of your constant complaints about wrongs done to you, other people will begin to avoid you too. Even if the offender was wrong, people expect you to forgive and move on. But because you failed to do so, you will be left alone to wallow in your bile. No one wants to relate with a grouch.
Forgiveness in Business and Career Growth
One of the reasons we are always advised to forgive others is to keep doors open for transactions. Like we know, the person you meet today can be the person that will win you that contract tomorrow. Many people have lost business opportunities because they didn’t know how to subdue their negative emotions and let go. Some bosses have also lost good employees because they want to “deal” with them for offenses they could have easily have overlooked. If we can remember that people will continue to offend us, we will not hesitate to ignore some offenses.
But there is something about forgiveness that needs to be touched here. A lot of misinterpretations have been given to that term. Some definitions see forgiveness as a replacement of negative actions with positive ones. Well, allow me to say that forgiveness is not measured by actions. You don’t have to exhibit positive actions to show that you have forgiven a person. For instance, no one is asking you to start relating with a person that hurts you after you forgave him or her. No one is also saying you must present gifts to people to show that they have been forgiven. Of course, you should exchange pleasantries with the person, speak well about him or her, if you have to, attend functions together, but remember to keep a measurable distance to avoid being hurt again. After all, you need to protect your sanity.
Forgiveness is a personal thing. It is a transformation of your mind. You are the one to reap its benefits. At the same time, you are the one to suffer the consequences of unforgiveness, if you hold onto your anger.