Forgive and forget. Let bygones be bygones. Take the high road.
We have endless little sayings that all say the same thing: be forgiving. It sounds simple when these phrases roll off our tongues. It sounds like all we have to do is simply smile and forgive the person in question.
And yet, it’s not that easy.
I recently read an article about the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness, the author said, decreases stress and increases positive emotions.
I know this to be true. I’ve always been forgiving, sometimes even a little too forgiving. I can’t sit with negative energy coursing through my soul, and I find it difficult to just walk on when something hurts.
I like closure.
Forgiveness, as it turns out, isn’t just about giving another person another chance. It isn’t simply an act of letting someone off the hook. It’s an act of opening your own heart and allowing positive energy in.
When people refuse to forgive, they carry around negative emotions that build up over time. Eventually, those negative emotions will become too much to bear. When that happens, people experience stress, anxiety, depression, and sometimes very intense anger.
And when people act on those negative emotions? Friendships are lost. Families are fractured. Relationships are altered.
Practicing forgiveness – finding a way to look for the good and move on from the bad – can change your life.
Forgiveness is a daily theme in our house.
It’s no big secret that siblings argue once in a while. An abandoned toy is suddenly everybody’s favorite right now. An accidental bump on the slide is cause for a quick tattle just to be super sure that it wasn’t on purpose.
If I’m being honest, these moments are small and infrequent in nature. They tend to crop up when sickness keeps us cooped up or boredom creeps in. But we address them just the same.
Because the more you practice the art of forgiveness, the more easily you are to forgive. This skill – and it is a skill – will be essential in the larger world. Eventually, one of my children will be teased (as much as it pains me to even write that). At some point, one of them will be hurt by someone else. And although their might be tears and anger, we will work on practicing forgiveness each time.
Because forgiveness releases the burden of a cluttered soul. Forgiveness inspires happiness and inner peace.
How do you teach forgiveness?
Katie is a Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist/Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She has a five year old daughter, three year old son, and a rock and roll husband who makes her life complete. Katie has a parenting advice blog, Practical Parenting, and can be found on Twitter. She also writes for moonfrye.