Staying healthy (21)
- Cosmetic surgery: What to know beforehand
- Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?
- Bone health: Tips to keep your bones healthy
- see all in Staying healthy
Dental care (7)
- Oral health: Brush up on dental care basics
- Oral health: A window to your overall health
- Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance
- see all in Dental care
Skin care (17)
- Best sunscreen: Understand sunscreen options
- Sunless tanning: What you need to know
- Tattoos: Understand risks and precautions
- see all in Skin care
Nail care (1)
- Fingernails: Do's and don'ts for healthy nails
Eye care (9)
- Eye injury: Tips to protect vision
- Contact lenses: What to know before you buy
- LASIK eye surgery
- see all in Eye care
- Sleep aids: Understand over-the-counter options
- Napping: Do's and don'ts for healthy adults
- Sleep deprivation: Know the risks
- see all in Sleep
Mental health (11)
- Mental health: What's normal, what's not
- Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping
- Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health
- see all in Mental health
Healthy relationships (10)
- Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness
- Domestic violence against men: Know the signs
- Domestic violence against women: Recognize patterns, seek help
- see all in Healthy relationships
Healthy at work (11)
- Workplace exercises: How to burn calories at work
- Desk stretches: How-to video collection
- Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide
- see all in Healthy at work
Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness
What happens if I can't forgive someone?
Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if the person who's hurt you doesn't admit wrong or doesn't speak of his or her sorrow. If you find yourself stuck, consider the situation from the other person's point of view. Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation. In addition, consider broadening your view of the world. Expect occasional imperfections from the people in your life. You might want to reflect on times you've hurt others and on those who've forgiven you. It can also be helpful to write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation — or talk with a person you've found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.
Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?
If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn't always the case, however. Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn't.
What if I have to interact with the person who hurt me but I don't want to?
If you haven't reached a state of forgiveness, being near the person who hurt you might be tense and stressful. To handle these situations, remember that you can choose to attend or avoid specific functions and gatherings. Respect yourself and do what seems best. If you choose to attend, don't be surprised by a certain amount of awkwardness and perhaps even more intense feelings. Do your best to keep an open heart and mind. You might find that the experience helps you to move forward with forgiveness.
What if the person I'm forgiving doesn't change?
Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn't the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.
What if I'm the one who needs forgiveness?
The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you've done and how those wrongs have affected others. At the same time, avoid judging yourself too harshly. You're human, and you'll make mistakes. If you're truly sorry for something you've said or done, consider admitting it to those you've harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and specifically ask for forgiveness — without making excuses. Remember, however, you can't force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.Previous page
(2 of 2)
- Worthington EL, et al. Forgiveness, health, and well being: A review of evidence for emotional versus decisional forgiveness, dispositional forgiveness, and reduced unforgiveness. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2007;30:291.
- Whited MC, et al. The influence of forgiveness and apology on cardiovascular reactivity and recovery in response to mental stress. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2010;33:293.
- Hirsch JK, et al. Forgiveness, depression, and suicidal behavior among a diverse sample of college students. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2011;67:896.
- Hurst K. Rx: Forgiveness. Family Medicine. 2011;43:203.
- Fehr R. The road to forgiveness: A meta-analytic synthesis of its situational and dispositional correlates. Psychological Bulletin. 2010;136:894.
- Thornton B. Try forgiveness. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families. 2011;19:245.
- Toussaint LL, et al. Forgive to live: Forgiveness, health, and longevity. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. In press. Accessed Sept. 3, 2011.
- Hantman S, et al. Forgiveness in late life. Journal of Gerontological Social Work. 2010;53:613.
- Braithwaite SR, et al. Forgiveness and relationship satisfaction: Mediating mechanisms. Journal of Family Psychology. 2011;25:551.
- Piderman KM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 3, 2011.
- Sood A. Train Your Brain, Engage Your Heart, Transform Your Life: A Course in Attention and Interpretation Therapy (AIT). Rochester, Minn.: Morning Dew Publications; 2010: 303.