It’s coming up to Christmas, the time of year when we’re all supposed to get together and have a fun-filled time. Whether it means a festive party fuelled with eggnog and a roast, a special gift for the people that mean the most, or quality time with our nearest and dearest – the holiday season is the perfect time to reconnect and spend quality time with one another.
While we all would love the holiday season to be full of joy, the stress of the end of the year, hectic shopping experiences, extended family visiting, and the perceived pressure to have everything perfect can put a strain on our emotions and our relationships. This can easily turn our focus to what isn’t so perfect in our world.
In this article, we decided to look inwards instead of outwards, evaluating how you can practice forgiveness this holiday season and why it might be the best present you can give yourself and others.
Where to Start
Forgiving is sometimes easier said than done when it involves letting go of something that has deeply hurt you. However, the first thing to understand about forgiveness is that it is about you, not ‘them’. It is for you to heal, not to excuse actions that have hurt you. In fact, you can practice forgiveness without even involving anyone else. Whether or not you tell someone you forgive them is less important than the process of you accepting the past, understanding everyone makes mistakes and allowing yourself to heal and move on.
Holding onto negative feelings hurts you more than anyone else. Sometimes preoccupation with a transgression or your hostility towards another can cause pain both emotionally and physically and leave you with burdening feelings of anger and bitterness, making it harder to experience feelings of joy.
The Benefits of Forgiveness
By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace happiness and vitality. Letting go can relieve you of the unnecessary burden that can weigh you down and wreak havoc on your health.
Some of the benefits of forgiveness include:
- Healthier Relationships
- Improved mental health
- Less anxiety and stress
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Improved self-esteem
How to Forgive
Whether someone else hurt you or you did something to yourself or others, there’s nothing you can do to change the past but you can learn from your experience and choose to move on by making the best of the situation you’re in now.
To clear out your emotional baggage, identify who you felt has let you down and mindfully work through accepting what was, to make space for what can be.
Take some time to yourself and commit to forgiving.
- Accept the reality of what happened and all the feelings you experienced as a result. Know that there’s nothing that can be done now to change it, all anyone can do is make the best of what we have now and move forward.
- Explore your own faults and flaws to appreciate that everyone is human and will make mistakes. This is not about shifting blame to yourself, rather acknowledging that no one is perfect can help you accept others’ flaws.
- Practice empathy to try to understand the situation from others’ perspectives.
- Try to find a lesson in the situation for your own personal growth, consider what you learned about yourself in moving through this situation and the emotional healing.
- Focus on being present and not dwelling too long in the past.
- Practice gratitude for what you have and the positive people in your life.
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily happen instantly but you can continually take small steps towards positively moving forward and allowing space for future opportunities and happiness.