The Healing Power of Forgiveness


So your marriage didn't work out. That doesn't make you the worst person in the world. In order for us to heal and to move on to new, wonderful and amazing possibilities, we have to learn to forgive ourselves for our divorces. Family attorneys in Pasadena have seen honest attempts at self- forgiveness work wonders for the recently-divorced - and a study from Stanford University suggests that forgiving ourselves might even be good for our health.

Stanford launched theForgiveness Project in 2001. Spearheaded by noted author Dr. Fredric Luskin, the project has explored the positive effects of forgiveness on those who are willing to change their behaviors.

"Forgiveness consists primarily of taking less personal offense, reducing anger and the blaming of the offender, and developing an increased understanding of situations that lead to hurt and anger," according to the project.

Luskin has found that forgiveness has been shown to "reduce anger, hurt, depression and stress and lead to greater feelings of optimism, hope, compassion and self-confidence." Sounds wonderful - but forgiving yourself and your ex after a divorce can be a tall order. Even the "best divorces" can leave you feeling hopeless, cynical and resentful.

But author Carlos Phillips, who wrote the divorce self-help book Healed Without Scars, says the hard work of forgiveness has an incredible power.

"It's not just forgiving your ex-spouse," Phillips says. "You have to let yourself go, too. You have to forgive yourself. You're only human, you make mistakes and once you are able to do that and say, 'I did what I did based on who I was as that person at that time, but now that I know better, and now that I'm wiser, now that I know the consequences, I'm going to do better, I'm going to forgive myself,' it's going to get easier to forgive others."

So give yourself a break today and realize that the sooner you start to forgive yourself and others, the better you'll feel.