We are in the midst of the holiday season for 2022, nearing the end of the year, and people are beginning to look ahead to 2023. If you are wondering what is the best gift you can give yourself or others, or the best resolution for the new year, the answer in this blog. The one thing that there never seems to be enough of, but is so helpful in many areas of life is Forgiveness.
Before we talk about what Forgiveness is and the benefits of forgiveness, let’s first look at what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not denial (it never happened), forgetting, excusing, or condoning. Each of these requires a person to overlook or accept what has happened. True forgiveness is positive change in a person’s thoughts, emotions, or behaviors toward a person (or group, organization, agency, society, etc.) that has wronged them. When people forgive, their responses toward the other person become more positive and less negative over time. This sounds exactly like what we teach in Mandt. We always want to interact with others in a way that builds them up rather than tears them down.
Forgiveness has many positive effects. Research shows that people who forgive report less anxiety, depressions, and hostility. They also are less narcissistic, less exploitative, and more empathic. Forgiveness also seems to aid in reducing health measures such as blood pressure and increasing self-esteem.
So forgiveness is a conscious choice a person must make. It is a perfect example of how we must affirm the feeling (even if someone has done something hurtful) and choose our behavior. While revenge seems to be a primal instinct that has been found even in primates, we need to be able to choose forgiveness and work towards it.
Forgiveness may be given at any level, ranging from self to society. If we start by forgiving ourselves (for whatever it is we are holding on to that is holding us back), we will start to experience the benefits of forgiveness. Forgiveness is something that gets easier with practice. The more we forgive, the easier it is to forgive.
Let’s give ourselves and everyone a great gift this holiday season. Let’s find forgiveness!
Dr. Dale Shannon – Director of Instructional Design