We’ve all been hurt or betrayed. We’ve been so angry or bitter towards someone that we’ve thought there is no way we could forgive them! We might have even replayed the event(s) over in our head, validating our feelings, and often intensifying them. Well, there is some bad news regarding this way of thinking. It can negatively impact our health.
Forgiveness is defined as: a conscious and deliberate decision to release ones feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person who has done something wrong. It can include the process of fostering compassion, generosity and even love…easier said than done right! But maybe if you realize the positive impact that the act of forgiveness has on yourself, you’ll look for ways to offer it more readily.If you think of an old memory of being mistreated, hurt or offended, you often start to feel anxious and a bit unwell. There may also be some physiological or emotional responses that occur, such as higher blood pressure and the tightening of muscles. Holding onto negative emotions creates a chronic state of anxiety. This in turn produces an excess of adrenaline and cortisol, which is not good. Anger is cardiotoxic, which can actually damage the heart muscle.
On the flip-side, the health benefits of forgiveness are monumental. There have been controlled studies showing that people that who forgave had improvement in blood pressure and cardiovascular tone and higher percentages of CD4 immune cancer-fighting cells!
When we are forgiving in our nature, we let go of grudges and often open ourselves up to becoming closer to friends and family. Old relationships have a chance to change and grow and new relationships can emerge, all because we made room for them with forgiveness. Try to see forgiveness as a gift to yourself. One of the reasons you may be hanging onto a grievance is that you may believe that you’re letting the other person off the hook. In fact, it’s not actually about the other person. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself so you no longer have to suffer and can find peace and closure.
We aren’t suggesting that you just give in to poor treatment by others. And we aren’t saying that any harm or disrespect you may have encountered in your past isn’t meaningful and that it should be swept under the rug. It’s appropriate to acknowledge the pain you’ve suffered, accept that the hurt happened and implement and maintain boundaries so that the opportunity doesn’t present itself to hurt you again. But at the same time, it’s healthier to let go of your attachment to the resentment you’re feeling. It may take some practice but it should take you to feeling lighter and more in control.
So as we move through the first month of 2017, it’s a great time to let go of past grievances and feel more positive. Lets all work towards a calmer and happier place in our lives. Let’s lead by example and transition towards a future of peace, compassion and forgiveness!