The Power of Forgiveness: Why Revenge Hurts You More

Forgiving others not only makes you the “bigger person”, it also benefits your physical, emotional, and mental health.
woman walking along a shoreline
Forgiving others and releasing the desire to get revenge makes you a better person—literally.

The desire to get revenge is a natural instinct and a normal response when someone wrongs you. No one wants to feel like they let a culprit “get away with it”. Our natural sense of self-protection compels us to act in order to avoid feeling vulnerable as if there is nothing we can do to right the wrong. However, forgiving someone doesn’t make you a pushover, and it’s not about letting the other person “off the hook”. Instead, forgiveness is about overcoming your anger and quelching your desire to punish the other person.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it makes me feel better.”

Not true. Contemplating about how to “get pay back” has a negative impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Studies show that focusing on revenge increases stress, inhibits mental functions, and weakens the immune system; the negative emotions that you harbor do more harm to yourself than the person who offended you. Conversely, practicing forgiveness has been linked to lower blood pressure, reduced fatigue, and an improved quality of sleep.

Being a forgiving person doesn’t suggest or imply being foolish; as the saying goes, forgive but don’t forget. By letting go of grudges or ill will you are simply refusing to react in a destructive way; but, that doesn’t mean subjecting yourself to further mistreatment. You can forgive someone and still call the police, testify in court, or love them from a distance.

The problem for many of us is that sometimes we claim to forgive a person, but deep down the anger or resentment lingers. Here are five effective ways that you can genuinely forgive someone and truly let go of the disappointment, pain, or grudge that you’re holding onto.

Some situations and behaviors are easier to forgive and less consequential than others. For example, a little white lie has less impact than a false testimony that landed you in jail or a theft that depleted your finances. In more extreme situations, it may be best to seek professional help.

Care Matters offers support, counseling, and resources to help you overcome difficult circumstances and everyday stressors. If you feel like the situation is more than you can handle, contact us by calling 248-691-9034 or by sending an e-mail to