Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger. Forgiveness doesn’t automatically mean a reconciliation. One doesn't have to return to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from someone who has hurt us.
Forgiveness is vitally important for the mental health of many people who have been victimized. It propels people forward rather than keeping them more emotionally engaged with an injustice or trauma. Forgiveness has been shown to elevate mood, enhance optimism, and guard against anger, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Carrying the hurt or anger of an offense leads the body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Eliminating the perpetual flow of those hormones may also explain why forgiveness provides physical health benefits, such as lowering the risk of high blood pressure and heart problems.
Although burying the hatchet usually brings peace to the soul, there may be some exceptions to that advice, such as a case of sexual abuse. Sometimes a victim becomes more empowered when they give themselves permission not to forgive.
Equally, and perhaps more important, is learning to acknowledge your missteps and forgive yourself. Self-forgiveness is often the first step toward a more loving and positive relationship with yourself, and therefore with others.