Forgiving another person for the pain they have caused can be challenging. Carrying around a grudge can also be a significant burden on one’s mental health and relationships. Substance abuse may also develop as a coping mechanism. Suffering behind long-held resentments or anger can cause immense unmanageability that can be remedied through forgiveness and letting go of those painful feelings.
What Is Forgiveness?
It can be challenging to move past being betrayed by someone who is considered trustworthy, such as a family member or friend. There is usually some resistance to the “forgive and forget” mentality due to an individual’s trust in their friend or loved one being broken. Forgiveness means different things to people depending on the situation. It is a subjective matter that may not fit one specific instance of broken trust or perceived betrayal throughout a person’s lifetime.
Forgiving Does Not Mean Forgetting
Forgiving does not mean a person’s actions are excused or the incident should be forgotten. When someone forgives another for their wrongs, they remember with intention and without resistance. All the physical interactions, words, and emotions associated with the situation are brought into the conscious mind and accepted as they happen.
Taking Personal Responsibility
Forgiveness is acknowledging that the past cannot be changed, but someone’s response to what happened can. Forgiving the offender is a way to regain control over one’s wellbeing by taking personal responsibility for letting go of bitter feelings to heal. If blame is always put on others for an individual’s suffering, they may not find the motivation to take steps to improve their quality of life.
The suffering individual’s job is to rid themselves of any toxicity they harbor.
Some never deal with their afflictions. They mentally avert memories and avoid situations that could serve as a reminder. They erect an “emotional wall” that causes them not to feel the pain at the surface. Subconsciously, though, their pain may manifest in other areas of their life without even realizing it. The mind can block things, but the body holds on to trauma memories.
How Is Forgiveness Valuable?
Releasing negative emotions targeted toward a person can have several benefits. The following are five reasons a person should learn to forgive:
#1. Power & Control.
Holding a grudge consumes emotional energy and mental space that could be better utilized. An individual may also be humiliated by the way they were victimized. A person who forgives can release the offender’s control over them. This can empower and help them build back their self-confidence and become more positive.
#2. Relationship Problems.
Unhealthy patterns of interpersonal interactions can develop as a result of being badly hurt by another person. Breaking down emotional walls that prevent others from getting too close starts with acknowledging how the betrayal has caused these patterns so they can be changed.
#3. Victim Mentality.
When a person has been victimized, a spectrum of emotions, cognitions, and behaviors can show up that make it difficult to forgive. For instance, they may:
- feel anxious, depressed, or hostile
- contemplate revenge, rehearse or ruminate about the incident
- avoid the offender or demand that amends be made
A person may resent the offender, regardless of whether they openly express these feelings. This is concerning because resentment has been associated with psychopathology and may be at the root of some psychiatric disorders.
#4. Improved Health.
Some research shows that forgiveness has therapeutic benefits for mental and physical health. One study found that “greater forgiveness is associated with less stress and… better mental health.” This might also suggest averted damage to physical health as it has been established that high-stress hormones can increase a person’s risk of heart disease and gastrointestinal problems, for example.
#5. Substance Use Disorder.
Bottled-up emotions can keep a person in a state of hyper- or hypo-arousal. Drugs and alcohol are temporary and dangerous methods to numb the pain. Substances will never make the past disappear; they only worsen a person’s current state.
Drugs & Alcohol Are Not the Way Out
Many individuals who have lived through abusive relationships or have been neglected by caregivers use drugs or drink alcohol because it is the only thing that makes them feel good. Life may be depressing, dissatisfying, and downright painful; substances take the edge off. Using substances to distort reality is a crucial indication of substance abuse.
Unpacking the Past in Treatment
Betrayal can change a person’s entire outlook on life. They may never come to terms with what happened without clinical help.
Substance use disorders (SUDs) that develop from emotional and physical trauma may eventually become an addiction. This complex brain disease introduces more challenges to recovery. Dual diagnosis programs with a trauma-informed orientation are equipped to treat these conditions.
Forgiveness allows a person to accept the pain another person has caused them while taking personality responsibility for recovering from those wounds. Holding onto these emotions through denial or resistance can make life depressing. A person’s mental and physical health can start to degrade as these issues fester and substances are abused to cope. Avalon Malibu is a mental health and addiction treatment center in Malibu, CA. We are nationally recognized for the quality of our programs and the diversity of therapeutic approaches we offer. We aim to change our clients’ lives by helping them address underlying issues and build life skills that will improve their relationships with themself and others. Every client may come with a particular condition but will leave with the potential for great things. Our clinicians recognize the therapeutic benefits of practicing forgiveness and will guide clients on this journey. Call (844) 857-5992.