“I lay down my weapons.
I open my heart. I forgive. I let it be! And so it is!”

— Iyanla Vanzant

Forgiveness can repair important relationships, encourage your emotional growth and improve your health. (Thinkstock/Getty Images)

Forgiveness can repair important relationships, encourage your emotional growth and improve your health. (Thinkstock/Getty Images)

Take a wonderful journey this weekend that will set you free. Break the bondage created by negative emotions. It’s a given that if you live long enough, someone you care about is going to let you down. But letting go of the hurt and anger that comes with betrayal can give you a new lease on life.

Forgiveness can lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress levels, help you sleep better and avoid depression. It may even help you repair important relationships and encourage your emotional growth.

“Quite often we are stuck in the memories of what we have done or not done; or what others have done to us. … Unfortunately our toxic thoughts and feelings do not nurture or nourish us,” says Iyanla Vanzant in her wonderful book, 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything.

So what better time to let go and move on than in the first few months of a new year? Here’s a little advice from Vanzant and psychologists Robert Enright and Fred Luskin.

Own your true feelings. Vanzant advises us to identify our emotional triggers — such as abandonment, abuse or self-doubt — that might lead us to hold on to judgments or issues that make it harder to forgive others.

Find the hidden value. Sometimes negative encounters with people, especially people you thought you knew well, can reveal valuable lessons. Look for the life-enhancing discoveries in a difficult situation.

Release yourself. Realize that once you let go of your feelings of victimization, you take away the control the offending person has had on you and your life.

Seek empathy and understanding. There are many types of meditation, but a practice called the Loving Kindness Method is particularly effective at helping people develop warm feelings toward others, even after a breach of trust.

Accept that forgiving may not mean forgetting. Enright advises people that the idea behind forgiveness is to seek peace, not justice. The people who hurt you may not suffer, and it may not be healthy for you to keep them in your life. Just keep your eye on the prize: your enhanced ability to cultivate serenity and happiness in your life.

About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being

We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.

To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life, or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.