What Is Forgiveness And Why Is It Important For Your Self-Care Journey
I would describe myself as an emotional wellness and mental health advocate, so I tend to check in with myself, friends, and family members periodically to ensure that we are engaging in self-care practices when needed. With the help of mainstream media promoting self-care, there is an abundance of content that includes tips, tools, and suggested activities for us to practice and utilize. Self-care advice is easily accessible in blogs, magazines, vlogs, and practically anywhere else. However, with all this available information, some people are still in the dark about the meaning and practice of self-care.
Self-care is the act of asking yourself, “Are you good?” which involves checking in with yourself periodically to see how you’re doing mentally, emotionally, and physically. A self-check allows you to be in tune with yourself and evaluate what is happening with your mind and body. After you have completed your self-check, you may discover that you need to find and participate in certain activities to provide balance to your mental, physical, and emotional wellness. These practices teach you how to lower your stress levels and declutter your mind. Some of those practices include exercising, seeing a therapist, creating boundaries with friends and family members, releasing yourself from toxic relationships, finding alone time for yourself, disconnecting from social media, and even taking vacations.
As for me, I utilize many of these same tips every so often to re-align my physical, emotional, and mental health. Although I attend therapy regularly, it was through therapy that I discovered how the act of forgiveness provides positive outcomes that improve mental, emotional and physical health. You may be reading this and wondering how in the world does forgiveness play a role in self-care? Well, I’m glad you asked! Let’s discuss why we need to extend forgiveness in the first place.
Offenses And How They Affect Us
We must extend forgiveness when we are offended. All of us at one point or another have and will experience some form of offense. Offense ushers emotional hurt and pain into our lives, that often leaves us with feelings of betrayal and mistrust. We experience these emotions because these offenses often come from the hands of people that we love and trust. When it occurs, it is so heart wrenching because never in a million years would we have expected that person to offend us. Some of us experienced such horrific offenses that we have vowed to never forgive that person. I’ve heard over the years that un-forgiveness is the act of drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. That phrase possesses truth because we are the ones who hold on so tightly to the offenses and tend to suffer from doing so, all while the offender may not be aware of the offense that they committed against you.
Forgiveness is an extension of self-care. When we harbor feelings of betrayal, anger, and resentment towards our offenders, it may lead to the development of physical illnesses, mental disorders, as well as an increase in stress levels. Research shows that “depression, PTSD, and other psychiatric disorders are significantly higher among people who demonstrate less forgiveness years after the events”. Forgiveness helps us to prevent those things from occurring within our minds and bodies, which improves our self-care.
Moving Forward To Forgiveness
It is vital to our growth journey to release the offenses and offenders. When we choose not to address an offense, we hold onto the pain and expect our offender to pay for the injustice that they performed against us. Forgiveness is extending empathy and compassion to your offender in your own time. By forgiving your offender, you are offering yourself freedom by releasing those emotions that accompanied the offense. You owe it to your mind and body to be free from anything that hinders your emotional and mental wellbeing. Also, people confuse forgiveness with reconciliation, which prevents them from pursuing forgiveness altogether. It is possible for you to forgive without reconciling and cultivating a relationship with your offender. However, if you would like to reconcile and forge a relationship, then that is your choice to do so, but it is not a requirement to forgive. Remember, forgiveness is totally about you and not your offender.
Seeking therapy may be the answer to helping you extend forgiveness to your offenders. Within therapy, you have the opportunity to recall the offense and express your true feelings and thoughts surrounding the offense. Therapy sessions are beneficial to the healing and forgiving process. The results of forgiveness therapy may include a decrease in mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. So, by practicing forgiveness, we are improving our mental and emotional states, which consequently enhances our self-care.
As for me, I developed depression, while battling with anger and trust issues due to the offenses that I experienced. The unresolved offenses that I held onto began to hinder other relationships, which caused me to make others pay for an offense they did not commit against me. Therapy became an aid in my healing journey, and it can become an aid for you as well.
It is important to have patience as you embark on your self-care journey and begin to forgive others. Forgiveness is a process, and it takes time to achieve it, so take your time on your forgiveness path. And it is my sincere hope that you find peace on the other side of forgiveness.
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