From an early age we are told forgiveness is an important virtue we should practice, but we are only told to forgive, we are not shown how to forgive and mean it. In the Lord's Prayer we ask God to "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us," But I don't think forgiveness should be regarded as prescriptive morality. Prescriptive morality never works and is frequently a form a self- righteousness in disguise--a mask for the ego.
The best way to understand forgiveness is to realize that to forgive and to ask for forgiveness is the best use of one's energy and also one of the most important paths to self-healing. The absence of forgiveness is holding a grievance or resentment and also a subtle desire to seek vengeance. In short it is hostility. Many studies have shown that although anger can be a healthy release of pent up energy, hostility is not healthy, and it is the number one emotional risk factor for premature death from cardiovascular accident (stroke and heat attack).
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