Many people think forgiveness is a sign of weakness. But here is a real story that showcases the power of forgiveness. An act of forgiveness that broke a hard hear-ted serial killer down in minutes. Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer, was an American serial killer who was convicted of 49 murders, but later confessed to killing more than that number. During Gary’s trial, the victim’s families were given the opportunity to talk to Gary directly face-to-face. Everyone cussed and cursed him in tears, pain, and anger; his reaction to them was a cold stoned face. But then there was one father whose daughter was brutally raped and killed by Gary. He faced his daughter’s killer and said, “ Mr. Ridgway, there are people here that hate you. I am not one of them; you’ve made it difficult to live up to, but I believe, and it is what God says to do, and that is to forgive and you are forgiven.” His words broke the serial killer, and he cried after hearing this father’s words. It is more painful and cruel for a parent to have their child raped and killed. It is incredibly difficult to forgive, as it goes against our human nature and every reasonable, logical thought in our mind. This father’s act of forgiveness was not human kindness but divine kindness, which shook everyone who witnessed the act of forgiveness.
The definition of Forgiveness according to the American Psychological Association is forgiveness is an act of willfully putting aside feelings of resentment toward an individual who has committed a wrong, been unfair or hurtful, or otherwise harmed one in some way. Forgiveness is not equated with reconciliation or excusing another, and it is not merely accepting what happened or ceasing to be angry. Rather, it involves a voluntary transformation of one’s feelings, attitudes, and behavior toward the individual so that one is no longer dominated by resentment and can express compassion, generosity, or the like toward the individual. Forgiveness is sometimes considered an important process in psychotherapy or counseling.
Why do we hold grudges?
Most of us are unable to let go of the anger we feel towards those who have wronged us. Incidents of abuse and betrayal run deep and require a concerted effort to let go and forgive. The major issue with grudges is that they make us carry a bag full of toxic waste that keeps us caught in bitterness. These feelings of bitterness and anger never make us feel better or heal our inner wounds. It makes us the proud owners of our grudges, but there is no healing or comfort. We turn our grudges into a reward for what we went through, a badge of honor, a way to remind others and ourselves of our pain, and to keep reliving and rethinking what happened.
Replaying the unjust incidents in your mind again will enable you to dwell in resentment, which could make you feel superior and righteous. “I am not perfect, but I would never do that.” A self-righteous attitude can hinder resolving the issue and let go.
Forgiveness and mental health
Forgiveness brings peace of mind and frees the forgiver from corrosive anger. Scientific studies have stated that forgiveness decreases anger and depression and leads to an increase in self-esteem and a hopeful outlook on life. In most depression cases, the underlying cause of depression is bitterness and anger towards someone. Forgiveness can help lower the risk of psychological disorders. The act of not wanting to forgive someone is a character of rumination or playing something over again and again, which can cause mental disturbances such as hypertension, depression, anxiety, distress, and migraines. Everyone ruminates that some of us do it in anger and some of us do it hopelessly or anxiously. If this becomes habitual, it can lead to psychological disorders.
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