Understanding the Real Benefit of Forgiveness After Divorce

Forgiving an ex can be one of the toughest things to do, especially when there can be so many reasons to be angry. Even though you may be justified in your anger, you can still benefit greatly from letting it go.

There is a saying that goes, “Acid does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to the surface on which it is poured.” This statement is even truer when it comes to harboring anger or resentment. When you carry those negative feelings around with you, they can impact your other relationships, even though you may think you are dealing with the anger just fine. The next thing you know, you have an open door that allows that negativity to seep into every other aspect of your life. It can grow to the point where aren’t able to compartmentalize it anymore. This can leave you feeling constantly angry and helpless to find peace from your pain.

When you hang on to hurt and anger, that harshness and bitterness can bleed over into all the wonderful new experiences you may have. Let’s say you take your children to the zoo. They’ve been looking forward to this trip for quite some time, but once you get there, you find that every little thing is getting under your skin. The kids are running around, full of excitement, talking 100 miles per hour, and you feel like your nerves are not going to be able to handle any more excited activity. The anger and frustration that have been gnawing at you have just cost you precious time with your children that you can never get back.

There is healing in forgiveness. When you are able to come to the realization that forgiving does not equate to condoning a behavior (nor does it say the other person is deserving of your forgiveness), you are the one who will truly benefit. Everyone comes to this realization at their own pace, so don’t feel like you have to reach it overnight; it may take time and work, but you can reach it.

Johns Hopkins has done research into the physical benefits of forgiveness, and the results may surprise you. They start by stating that forgiveness is a conscious action, a choice, that you must make in order to really move on. By choosing to hang on to anger, hurt, or bitterness, you can compromise your immune system, elevate your blood pressure, and increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease. By choosing to forgive, you can enjoy a more stress-free life with less likelihood of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress.

But how do you start to forgive? Well, the article suggests either talking with the person that hurt you or writing about forgiving them. If talking with that individual is not going to be possible or healthy (and it can be very understandable why you wouldn’t want to go that route), then keep a journal where you write about what they did to hurt you, how you feel about it, and how you’re going to start forgiving them for that pain. Write a letter to them about your anger, and then write one to them about why you are forgiving them. You need not send either of these letters, just getting the thoughts written down can help start you on the path to forgiveness.

Forgiveness is generally thought of as a privilege or a gift that someone should ask for—or earn—before receiving. But the truth is, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Holding on to the anger and pain brought on by your divorce is completely normal, but it will not serve you.

If you’re struggling in the painful wake of your divorce, Untangle the Knot is here to help you through the healing process. Your ex may never come to you with an apology, they may never admit they did anything wrong, and they may never show remorse for their actions, but you can still forgive them. Not for their peace of mind, but for your own.

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