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How forgiveness can improve your mental health

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Letting go and getting on with your life

Don't let negative feelings take over your life just because you have been wronged by someone you care about. Instead, forgive that person and then move forward to a healthier, happier life. Read on to learn about how forgiveness can improve your mental health.

Woman forgiving friend

Forgiveness doesn't minimize the act

Some people think that if they forgive someone, they are condoning the wrong that was done to them or letting the other person escape responsibility for their actions. Forgiveness doesn't excuse the act or minimize its consequences. It doesn't deny the other person's responsibility or justify the wrong. Instead, forgiveness allows you to go forward in your life.

Holding grudges is the easy part

When you are hurt, holding a grudge is easier than letting go of the feelings. When you hold onto a grudge, you don't have to deal with the hurt -- you can just bottle it up inside. However, grudges lead to anger, resentment and feelings of vengeance. Soon the negative feelings will outweigh any positive ones that you had about the person. You can become consumed with these feelings and let the bitterness and anger creep into all aspects of your life. You get so wrapped up in what has happened in the past that you stop living and enjoying the present.

Dangers of holding on to negativity

Holding onto grudges and hostility can do damage to your physical, emotional and mental health. It can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, stress and a host of other issues. It can make you so miserable that you have difficulty in all your relationships -- with friends, relatives, co-workers and romantic interests.

Benefits of true forgiveness

When you truly forgive someone, you let go of all the feelings of resentment, hostility and revenge. Forgiveness can be extremely difficult if you have been wronged by someone you love. However, if you can let go of your negative feelings, you can find an inner peace and start to go forward in your life. If you harbor feelings of resentment about past relationships, you'll never be able to form healthy relationships in the future. By letting go of the anger, bitterness and other negativity, you can fill your life with hope and joy again.

Letting go and moving forward

Think about how much better your life will be and the impact on your health and well-being if you truly forgave someone. When you are ready, reflect on the situation and actively choose to let it go. By moving away from the anger and leaving your role as a victim, you can then move forward. You may never have compassion or understanding for the person who hurt you, or even let them in your life again. However, you'll be able to remove yourself from the hostility and resentment, moving on to a happier, healthier life for yourself.

More about mental health & well-being

How to separate work from home life
6 Natural stress-busters
4 Signs you need to slow down

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