How Forgiveness Can Transform Your Life in 2014

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 01/01/2014 | 11:15 AM EST

Take this new year to forgive others and let go of unhealthy grudges

For many, a new year is all about new beginnings and leaving all of the hurt and negativity of the previous year in the past for good, locked away and never to be returned. Others take it a step further by cutting off people whom they feel have wronged them or caused them some form of anguish. The thing about excommunicating people out of your life, however, is that most will do it out of ill will and with anger in their heart. Whether it’s a parent, friend or significant other who has hurt you, it’s important that in 2014 you learn the art of forgiveness.

Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to keep people in life who are no longer welcomed, especially if they do not bring you any happiness or significant structure. However, forgiving others can be transformative, as it gives you peace of mind and allows you to move forward with your life without being bogged down by negative or ill feelings towards another.

Outside of the context of spirituality, there are more practical and physical benefits from forgiving others. When we’re angered with others, and subsequently, not speaking with them, we tend to hold grudges, which can be quite damaging to our mental and emotional wellbeing. It’s important to know that whether you choose to let the person back into your life or not, that forgiving doesn’t mean you’re denying his or her responsibility for hurting you. However, forgiveness brings you a level of peace that allows you to move forward with your life.

According to experts, there are great health and emotional benefits to forgiving others such as establishing healthier relationships, a greater spiritual or psychological well-being, having less anxiety, stress and hostility, lower blood pressure, fewer symptoms of depression and a lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse.

Holding a grudge is far more easy to persist than our ability to forgive because we often feel that our sense of love and trust has been violated. But if you allow negative feelings to overshadow your happiness or sense of positivity, you could find yourself engulfed in bitterness and uncontrollable anger, which does nothing for your personal growth or progression.

Research shows that holding grudges can cause you to repeatedly bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience that you encounter. Your life could be so wrapped up in the wrong that has been done to you that you’ll deny yourself the ability to enjoy the present or appreciate, and even recognize happiness when it's staring you in the face. You may even become anxious, depressed, and more damaging, lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.

This year, if you’re still holding on to the wrongs that have been done to you by others, now’s the time to dig deep and tackle the pain that you may still be carrying into the new year. Forgiveness can be a beautiful thing. If not for the sake of your relationships, do it for your own benefit. You owe it to yourself.

(Photo: Stockbyte/GettyImages)

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