Science suggests that forgiving past hurts, grudges and grievances is in the best interest of our own health and happiness. But how does one go about forgiving with grace, particularly when the pain is still present? Here we explore the art and science of forgiveness, sharing some of our own hurt-healing stories in the process.

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Forgiveness: The important role it plays in our health and happiness, and the rich opportunities it can offer — if and when we’re ready to embrace them.

We talk about our own personal experiences with forgiveness, and we share some expert recommendations for approaching forgiveness in ways that are healthy, safe and rewarding.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you more fully explore the potential of forgiveness in your own life.

“Forgiveness” Episode Highlights

  • “Forgive and evolve” vs. “forgive and forget” — the value of learning from our experiences before moving on
  • Pilar shares her most significant opportunity for forgiveness and personal growth following a childhood trauma
  • Dallas reflects on what causes people to hurt each other, and how it usually stems from a lack of understanding, capacity, or insight rather than an intentional desire to harm
  • The physical, mental and emotional damage caused by holding onto unresolved resentments and grudges
  • Mary Hayes Grieco’s outline for the process of forgiveness
  • The empowerment available in coming to resolution with a traumatic experience, and why it doesn’t necessarily involve confronting the person who harmed you
  • Helping others consider and explore the forgiveness process without forcing them through it

Think about something or someone you hold a grudge against or carry guilt for. Consider how things might have gone differently if you or the other person had more information, strength, insight, willpower, ability, better coping skills, a different early life experience, more understanding of the long-term impact on yourself or others, etc. Then notice if you feel the relief of forgiveness.

Use either Byron Katie’s “Judge-Your-Neighbor” worksheet or the three questions of the Naikan method of self-reflection to look deeper into a grievance you hold against someone, and notice if your feelings about the issue start to evolve.

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We’d also love to have you connect with us on Facebook. Tell us about your experiments, and share your thoughts, stories and reflections there.