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Monday Mom challenge: Forgive somebody

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Let it go and move on

New year, new you, right? You’ve committed yourself to a healthier body with more exercise and eating well. Maybe you’ve decided to take some classes or make other positive changes in your life. But have you resolved to make positive emotional changes? What about resolving to let go of anger and forgive more? Emotions are powerful and often have an effect on our physical life. Releasing anger and grudges and engaging in forgiveness might have a more powerful effect on your life than you think!

Upset woman

In the day-to-day of our lives, misunderstandings happen. Insults, too. Whether intentional or not -- and really, they are mostly unintentional -- the result of these conflicts can be anger and frustration that impedes resolution and moving on. In addition, anger often manifests itself physically with tight muscles and other issues. Wouldn't it be nice to let all that go, too?

We are all human

"To err is human, to forgive, divine," the saying goes. There is not one of us who is perfect, there is not one of us who doesn't make a mistake. Even the most intentional, kind person occasionally causes a hurt feeling.

We're all operating from our own unique points of view. In the course of human interaction, we make decisions and act based on our individual, personal point of view. Before you call this being selfish in others, think of the times you have inadvertently hurt someone -- while you weren't necessarily thinking, "I am going to be selfish on this issue and think only about me," you weren't trying to hurt the other person, either.

Once you begin really thinking about the flaws in humanity in so many situations and how we are all necessarily thinking mostly from our own viewpoints, it becomes easier to understand how misunderstandings and hurts happens -- and that's a start to forgiveness.

What forgiveness means

Forgiveness can mean different things for different people, but mostly it means recognizing the essential humanness in many situations and letting go of anger based on that. Most of us have different and unique personalities -- and unique personality flaws and quirks. It's really quite impossible for two of those unique personalities to have the same view of a situation. That acquaintance may just not be capable of understanding how an offhand comment hurt you so deeply. Allow her that, and in understanding that, it's easier to forgive.

Forgive proactively

To that end, be proactive in your forgiveness. Even if forgiveness wasn't asked of you, forgive anyway. In many instances, forgiving is actually the start of the resolution, not the result. When you forgive and let go of the anger, you can be more emotionally open to a better resolution. Whether with a friend or family member, erring on the side of forgiveness and compassion for the human condition opens your head and your heart.

You don't need to say out loud to a person, "I forgive you," for it to be valid (it may not even be appropriate). You need to commit to it in your head and your heart for it to work. It's a huge release.

The act of forgiving can be hard work -- and it may take a long time to reach it with the harder the issues. It may not be possible in every situation, and it doesn't mean hurts go away. But working toward forgiveness is a way to work toward a healthier and more balanced you -- emotionally and physically.

Read more about forgiveness

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