Forgive him for your own health.

Photo by Volkan Olmez

Donald Trumps non-apology apology can be infuriating to witness, however in our hearts we are faced with a dilemma asking ourselves, should we forgive him? Does he really mean it? Would it be wrong to hold a grudge?

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. To forgive is to let go. Let go of anger and the desire for revenge. Forgiveness usually includes the development of a more positive attitude towards the other.

Researchers have found that some people are just naturally more forgiving and as a consequence tend to live healthier happier lives. People who hang on to grudges, in contrast are more likely to suffer from health conditions. Studies show forgiveness has tremendous health benefits including lowering your risk of heart attacks, lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol, improving your sleep, reducing pain, anxiety and depression and reducing stress.

Forgiveness does not equate with reconciliation. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from accountability for their actions. Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger.

Forgiveness is not just about saying the words “I forgive you”, it is an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings allowing you to begin to feel empathy, compassion and sometimes even affection for the person who wronged you. Consider yourself filling your heart up with love and compassion for the person who has wronged you. As difficult as it seems, counteracting a grudge with love will send positive endorphins through your body and in the end result in a healthier happier you.

The Nine Steps to Forgiveness according to Dr. Fred Luskin director of Stanford University’s Forgiveness Projects are:

1. Share and Articulate your Feelings

Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a couple of trusted people about your experience.

2. Make a commitment to yourself to feel better.

Forgiveness is for you and no one else.

3. Seek Peace and Understanding

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling with the person who upset you or condoning the action. In forgiveness you seek the peace and understanding that come from blaming people less after they offend you and taking those offenses less personally.

4. Gain Perspective

Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts, and physical upset you are suffering now, not from what offended you or hurt you two minutes — or 10 years — ago.

5. Soothe your body

At the moment you feel upset, practice stress management to soothe your body’s fight or flight response.

6. Give up Expectations

Give up expecting things from your life or from other people that they do not choose to give you. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, friendship, and prosperity, and work hard to get them. However, these are “unenforceable rules:” You will suffer when you demand that these things occur, since you do not have the power to make them happen.

7. Find another way

Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you.

8. Look for Love

Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving power over you to the person who caused you pain, learn to look for the love, beauty, and kindness around you. Put more energy into appreciating what you have rather than attending to what you do not have.

9. Recognize yourself

Amend the way you look at your past so you remind yourself of your heroic choice to forgive.

Links:

Watch the video of Fred Luskin’s Greater Good talk on forgiveness