A couple days ago, I was scrolling through Instagram double tapping cute puppies and funny food memes when I came across a quote by the late and brilliant Maya Angelou.
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive.”
I must have read it 20 different times because wowwww, it hit me right in the chest.
The truth is, forgiveness is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve been burned pretty badly in the past and hurt by people I thought I could trust. I’ve had relationships turn sour in ways that totally broke my heart. And it always, always sucks.
But despite it all, I believe in forgiveness.
Here’s the thing about forgiveness, it’s really hard. It requires serious workkkk. And the process can be SUPER painful. But it’s worth it. Your body and mind will benefit in the long run.
I’m not just being dramatic right now — did you know it’s actually HEALTHY to forgive? Holding onto resentment and anger can cause physical changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and the immune response. Also, the inability to forgive has been linked to higher cortisol levels — a big contributor to stubborn belly fat.
Okay, so right now you might be thinking, easier said than done, Cassey. And you’re totally right. So what IS forgiveness?
Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, describes forgiveness as “an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings whether the person deserves it or not.”
See, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean everything goes back to the way it was. You aren’t letting someone off the hook for what they’ve done or erasing blame. You’re choosing to let it go anyway. And you know what’s so awesome about forgiveness. It’s in YOUR control. You get that power. And no one can take it from you.
That’s what makes that quote by Maya Angelou so powerful. Forgiveness is for YOU. It’s not about the other person. It’s not about if they “deserve” it or not. It’s not even about repairing relationships (though it can be). It’s giving yourself permission to move on. It’s how you begin to heal.
How do you deal with forgiveness? Does it come easily to you or is it a struggle? Are there ever circumstances you just can’t forgive?