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Forgiveness - A Healing Choice

Forgiveness - A Healing Choice

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Published by Pauline Wallin
What forgiveness means, and how to forgive when the other person isn't even sorry
What forgiveness means, and how to forgive when the other person isn't even sorry

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Published by: Pauline Wallin on May 05, 2009
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11/15/2012

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Forgiveness – A Healing Choice
By Pauline Wallin, Ph.D.www.drwallin.comHave you ever been deeply hurt or betrayed?Of course you have. And you know how hardit is to forgive – especially when the other  person does not seem truly sorry.So what are your options?1.
You can stay angry
. You may even plotyour revenge. At least you’re doingsomething rather than caving in as a“victim.” And anger can make you feelstrong for the moment.But there’s a big downside to staying angry. It is much harder on you – physically as wellas emotionally – than on the person who wronged you. Chronic or recurring anger causesstress, which can raise your blood pressure, wear down your immune system and makeyou depressed and anxious. Meanwhile, the person who hurt you may or may not befeeling much stress at all.2.
You could say, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.”
But what does that mean, really?The desire for revenge may be gone. But each timeyou “remember” the incident you re-live the hurt andanger over and over again. In other words, you haven’treally let go of it. The bitterness and resentment willcontinue to eat away at you, with risk for compromising your health as described above.3.
You decide to forgive.
Yes,
decide.
Forgiveness isan active decision.While the simple passage of time does lessen your anger toward some people’s actions, it won’t helpmuch in getting over hurt and betrayal by those withwhom you have a deep emotional attachment – spouse,family members, close friends.
 
Forgiveness does not generally materialize on its own. You need to make a consciousdecision and a commitment to forgive. Nor does forgiveness happen in a flash or in a moment of insight. It’s a gradual processthat takes time.
Why forgive?
Forgiveness is good for 
 you.
As long as you hold on to a grudge you keep yourself attached, in an unhealthy way, to the person who hurt you. Forgiveness can help you letgo of that unhealthy attachment.Forgiveness is better for your physical health as well. It
de-
stresses you. Recent researchhas shown physiological changes in the brain when you adopt an attitude of forgiveness.Studies have also found that forgiveness can help lower blood pressure, reducedepression and anxiety, increase self-esteem, and even save marriages.When you decide to forgive and start taking active steps, you may notice a bit of relief within a couple of days. Of course, the whole process will take time and effort, but at thisearly stage you won’t feel like so much like a prisoner of your own resentment.
 Isn’t forgiveness just condoning the other person’s despicable actions?
Forgiving someone does not imply that what they did was acceptable, nor that you shouldwork toward reconciling the relationship. And if they continue with their hurtful behavior, forgiveness is not even appropriate.But if the incident was in the past, you can choose to work on letting go of the bitternessthat drains you of energy and robs you of present-day joy.
Wallin – Forgiveness - Page 2 of 5
 
What does it mean to forgive?
Forgiveness involves rising above your anger and your desire for revenge. It requiressome feeling of compassion toward your wrong-doer, however small. You accomplishthis partly through shifting your perspective in how you deal with the pain.Forgiveness is a very unselfish act, because much of the time the wrong-doer does not“deserve” it. But it is just as much a gift to yourself as to the other person.
 How can I forgive when the person isn’t even sorry?
Forgiveness is not about the other person. It’s about you and how you deal with your ownfeelings.It is easier to forgive someone who apologizes and begs for mercy, but it’s not absolutelynecessary. The Amish families whose children were killed in a school massacre in NickelMines, PA never got an apology from the shooter who committed suicide at the scene.But they did find some peace within themselves through their faith and through their decision to forgive the perpetrator.You don’t have control over the wrong-doers motivations. You may never like or trustthe person again. But you do have the capacity to detach yourself from the burden of your own anger.
 How to forgive
Forgiveness takes time. Think of the processas tearing down a huge wall, brick by brick.As you remove the bricks, the scenery willgradually change. You’ll see things in adifferent perspective.The bad memories won’t be erased, but withforgiveness they will blend into the total sumof your life experiences.
Wallin – Forgiveness - Page 3 of 5

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