Steps to Forgiveness

By Shana Aborn, Ladies Home Journal

Learn how to let go of grudges.

If forgiveness is divine, then most of us are less than saintly. But forgiving those who hurt you can bring a sense of personal peace that we can’t experience when we refuse to let go of a past slight. Besides, it’s healthier. One recent study conducted by researchers at Hope College, in Holland, Michigan, showed that subjects experienced significant cardiovascular stress when they imagined revenge on people who had hurt them, but less so when they visualized forgiving their transgressors. Stanford University’s Forgiveness Project, in Palo Alto, California, has found that people who try to forgive report fewer incidents of anger and physical symptoms of stress than those who don’t.

Starting the Healing

Don’t wait for an apology. “Often we get very self-righteous: ‘There’s no way I’m going to forgive unless he says he’s sorry,'” says Mariah Burton Nelson, author of The Unburdened Heart: Five Keys to Forgiveness and Freedom(HarperSanFrancisco, 2000). “But when we do that, we could end up clinging to anger for years, often at our own expense. We’re leaving our well-being in the hands of someone else.” So start right now by recalling the facts of the incident and acknowledging your anger and hurt.

Read Additional 5 Steps to Forgiveness