Humans often find it hard to forgive, not because it is in our nature to hold on to anger and resentment, but because it is simply something difficult to do.
We go through a lot of hurts and pains in our lives and they are not all equal. Some hurts are deeper and bigger, which gives us a more difficult time forgiving. There are cases though that may result in unforgiveness, which can create a lot of different effects in our life.
Is unforgiveness bad? is it a sin? How can this affect us as Catholics? as people? Well, let’s dive in a bit deeper and find out!
Unforgiveness can be defined as someone who is not willing to forgive someone or something’s wrongdoings. It is also a state of mental and emotional distress because of bitterness, resentment, and extreme hurt.
What can Unforgiveness do to You?
From a scientific point of view, unforgiveness has deeper effects on your mental and physical health than you would imagine. Quoting Karen Swartz, the director of the mood disorders adult consultation clinic at the John Hopkins Hospital, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.”
We may think that being hurt and disappointed only hurts us emotionally, but what we do not know is how it definitely affects our physical health too. Being in deep bitterness and resentment, causes us stress, changes our heart rate, and can create a lot of physical tension in our bodies. This is why unforgiveness, the state of being in resentment, and bitterness can cause you great physical and mental pain and discomfort or can even lead to serious health problems.
What is the Illusion of Unforgiveness?
It is common for people who are unwilling to forgive to believe that they have the advantage. An example of this is, thinking that if you do not forgive this person who hurt you, it’s ultimately their loss since you are mad at them. This may give you a feeling of “power” but in reality, you are the one with the huge loss of the situation. Why is that so?
Well, Unforgiveness gives you this illusion of strength and dominance, tricking you in believing that not forgiving someone will save you from all hurt and will cause more hurt towards the other person you’re not willing to forgive. But this isn’t usually the case. Yes, for sure the person you’re not willing to forgive will also feel pain in the situation, but on your side, if you choose not to forgive, you will probably just end up harboring more anger and resentment towards the other person. And this kind of anger and resentment can be blown up to a high degree of stress in your life that can cause you great emotional, mental, and physical pain.
Sometimes people think that offenses and hurts are what destroy relationships with others. But the truth is that unforgiveness is what destroys relationships.
Is Unforgiveness a Sin?
Yes, Unforgiveness is a sin. It is a sin that results from pride and causes a lot of anger, hatred, and bitterness in life’s hardships and conflicts. The sin of unforgiveness can create a self-inflicted prison in your life. This means you will be chained by your own free will. The worst part is falling so deep into unforgiveness, that it can turn you to be bitter, full of resentment, and an unpleasant person towards others and yourself.
How Can Unforgiveness Affect You as a Catholic?
Unforgiveness stems from the mortal sin of pride, and falling into that sin, can seriously bring you a lot of damage than you can imagine. Naturally being in the state of sin, things will be harder, and can greatly affect your disposition on the sacraments and your relationship with others.
How to Stop Unforgiveness?
The good thing is, because of God’s grace, just like all our other sins, there is always a chance and possibility of change and being able to pick yourself up. Forgiveness is a long process, and you mustn’t think it will be done overnight.
The first step we highly encourage you to do as you go through the process of forgiveness is to pray and ask God for guidance and the willingness to forgive and to be unchained from the shackles of unforgiveness. The next step is to go to confession and seek the help of a priest through spiritual direction. Remember, it is not impossible to forgive someone, there is always hope and love in this life that God has given us.