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Forgiveness Counseling and Treatment

Forgiveness Counseling and Treatment

Do you value forgiveness? Do you know what it takes to forgive? If so, you probably have a better life filled with happiness and joy. But if not, then also not to worry as this article explains what is resentment and anger, why it is important to forgive others and oneself, what benefits it yields, and how to practice and master the art of forgiveness.

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Understanding Resentment and Anger

Many people seem to experience anger and resentment at some point in their lives. And, some of them carry that feeling with themselves wherever they go. But, carrying these emotions seems to be a burden and draining. Because these feelings negatively affect not only your personal life but also your relationships, career, friendships as well. Also, it impacts your physical, emotional, and mental well being too.

But, resentment and anger are emotions and it is okay to have them. Anger is a normal emotion that anyone can experience and seems to be an appropriate and relevant emotion in many situations. Anger is a normal response whenever the outcomes are unfavorable than expected ones or feel to be wrong or injustice. It usually develops in response to the feelings of being hurt, fear, irritated, frustrated, or scared. So it seems to be a secondary emotion.

However, resentment is closely related to anger. It is negative emotions and thoughts towards someone or something because of some unfavorable past experiences. Most often, people hold it for years and do not let it go which sometimes makes them re-experience the same experience and it affects one’s rational thinking as well as one’s well-being. Because in the end, the holder of resentment is the one who suffers the most.

If you are not able to redirect your anger or resentment emotions, then you are giving up control on yourself and letting your emotions take over you and impact your life in a negative way. However, taking steps to take control of these emotions and letting them go allows you to deal with these feelings effectively as well as lead a healthy and happy life.

Why Is It Important to Forgive Others?

Forgiveness clears the clouds and helps you see a clear and beautiful sky again. When you forgive it allows you to see positive and practice positive thoughts that ultimately improve your relationships, well-being, and life. It allows you to experience peace, joy and take the next step to move forward.

When you hold anger or resentment towards anyone due to some events or incidents that didn’t result in as you expected them to be. It hurts you and you feel its pain that you get stuck with that experience and emotion and close yourself to all the future opportunities and possibilities. You feel like if you allow yourself to open up, you will experience the same events again. But, in the process, you cultivate negative thoughts and affect your life. You start experiencing low self-esteem, low motivation, low confidence, indecisiveness, and harbor bad feelings and worries.

However, when you practice forgiveness, it helps to reduce the negative effect, promote the positive ones, heals relationships and individuals, and provides a sense of freedom and joy.

What About Forgiving Yourself?

Holding anger and resentment or other negative emotions, even towards oneself can negatively impact physical, emotional, and mental health. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily need to have others but forgiving oneself is important too. Throughout life, one makes various decisions and choices. Out of which some probably didn’t give favorable outcomes and come out as mistakes or failures. It results in one feeling regret or blaming oneself for all the happening. People hold them accountable for such actions and as a result, may experience a harder time letting go, practicing self-compassion and forgiveness.

When one has difficulty with self-forgiveness, one develops mental health illnesses like anxiety, depression, self-harm or substance abuse, and other mental health conditions as well. However, those who practice self-forgiveness that includes careful self-reflection, acknowledging one’s actions and mistakes and compassion for others and oneself, and letting go are able to make effective amends to the other party and oneself as well.

What are the Benefits?

Studies show that inability or unwillingness to forgive can affect one’s well-being negatively. It not only affects the mental health but also the physical and emotional health of a person contributing to mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression. Practicing forgiveness benefits more than the person forgiving or forgiven. One enjoys the benefits of forgiveness personally as well as improving their relationships with family, friends, parents, or even colleagues at the workplace. It increases joy and happiness levels, better physical and mental health, and better, stronger, and healthier relationships.

People who often practice forgiveness are found to experience less stress or negative emotions like anger or resentment. Also, it enables one to resolve conflicts effectively and strengthen relationships with friends or partners, and cultivate positive feelings and compassion for others and the person. All of it helps them improve their self-esteem, confidence, and immune system. Research shows that those who hold resentment or anger experience a weaker immune system compared to those who practice forgiveness.

The Physical Symptoms of Harboring Bad Feelings

Holding anger, resentment or bad feelings can adversely impact your mental health and physical health in a variety of ways. Most importantly, harboring bad feelings make you feel more bad feelings and trap you in a loop of negative emotions and feel helpless and hopeless.

Building up negative feelings creates the potential for anxiety, depression, mood disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideation, aggressive behavior, or deregulation of emotions. Studies show that holding onto negative emotions also affects the physical health and potential for the weaker immune system, digestive system or causes heart conditions, insomnia, headaches, and body aches, upset stomach, etc. While it is clear that harboring bad feelings has many pitfalls, practicing forgiveness and making amends can help to reap many benefits.

How to Apologize and Make Amends

If you find yourself holding grudges, resentments rather than letting them go, it may be helpful to reach out to trained mental health professionals such as therapists, counselors, psychotherapists, or psychologists and talk to them. It will help you get all the help, guidance, and support you need to make amends and practice forgiveness. They help you self-reflect better and clear your head to find a better resolution. Talking to them helps you gain insight into why you are resenting or having bad feelings and follow the plan to develop skills to deal with difficult and hard situations effectively.

Also, in order to practice forgiveness and apologize to someone, putting yourself in their shoes helps you gain insight and understand what other people might have been going through and what they did, and why they did it. Maybe they were going through a rough time, or they misunderstood or there was some miscommunication despite good intentions.

In order to make amends, it is important to practice positive coping strategies and take baby steps to go through the process of forgiveness and making amends. You can practice one or some of these to develop positive coping skills.

  1. Let Go of the Past. It is important to let go of the past in order to move forward and focus on good things. What already happened, you may not be able to change that but if you hold onto it, it will probably eat you from the inside out and impact your overall well-being. While acknowledging the situation and letting it go would help you accept the outcome and focus on the next step to move forward positively and reduce the negative feelings and burden of regrets and guilt.

  2. Practicing kindness and self-care. Whenever one experiences anger, resentment, or holds onto grudges, they become hard on themselves and often feel stressed and focused on feeling bad about everything. But when you practice kindness and self-care, it helps you overcome those feelings and feel better. You can practice meditation, exercises, getting enough sleep, setting healthy boundaries, talking with supportive friends and family, or simply writing down your feelings and thoughts usually help.

  3. Living in the Moment You may not be able to undo the actions of the past or know what will happen in the future. But dwelling in the past or future keeps you distracted and distant from joy, happiness, and your goals. While realizing and accepting your own role in what happened, what you did, what you might have done differently, and focusing on living in the moment allows you to learn and take steps to become a better version of yourself.

  4. Talk to a Therapist If you have trouble forgiving yourself or others and facing difficulty in making amends, it’s time to get help. We often need help and support without any judgment and seeking it out is okay. Reaching out and getting help from a therapist allows you to recognize your behavioral patterns, areas that need improvement, and navigate through your emotions and experiences effectively through a plan.

However, if you are facing struggles with finding a good therapist who can help you out. It is important to look at their reviews, cost, listen to referrals, availability, and help you find the right fit for you. Most therapists are able to help you with forgiveness therapy or psychotherapy and guide you best to cope up with the tough situation you are going through and be more forgiving to lead a happy and peaceful life.

Featured Contributors

Lisa Meighan, MBPsS

Lisa is a licensed mental health counselor with an eclectic style of therapy to fit every client

Melissa Muller, LMHC

Melissa is a licensed mental health counselor and supervisor in the state of Florida.

Rachel Cherry White

Rachel Cherry White has a degree in Family & Community Services and is a strong proponent of psychological well being, truly believing that everyone can and should live their best life.