To Forgive is Divine… and Healthy
When you carry around anger and resentments because of past hurts, it’s like you’re carrying a backpack filled with heavy rocks. The only person all those resentments hurt is you – because you’re the one they’re weighing down.
Do you think the person who insulted you three years ago is still thinking about that insult? Do you think your ex-spouse who got the better divorce settlement cares all that much about how you feel? What about that former co-worker who took your idea and presented it as her own to get ahead of you – do you think she’s thinking about you at all? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “NO!”
Guy Finley, who has written countless books on discovering your “higher self,” said, “In this life…we are unable to forget whatever remains unforgiven. So, if we won’t let go of some pain – whose time has now past – then who is to blame for the weight of this burden still being carried on our back?” The answer is simple – we are – the ones still carrying the pain!
Studies have confirmed that there is a link between reliving hurtful memories and stress – measured by heart rate, EMG and blood pressure. So, not forgiving causes stress and stress leads to illness, nervous system interference, unhappiness, unfulfilled potential, strained relationships, the list goes on and on. The bottom line? Not forgiving negatively affects you and only you, no one else. So is it really worth it? Why not find health through forgiveness?
How to forgive what seems to be unforgivable? Try some of these tips:
- Express the resentment – to the person directly if that’s at all possible. If not, write it in a letter that you can tear up or burn. Putting feelings either into words or on paper helps with releasing the anger so you can move on.
- Consider whether or not compassion on your part needs to come into play. Hurt people hurt people. Consider the source of your pain. What kind of upbringing might they have had? What are their present circumstances? Has life dealt them a cruel blow that they can’t get past? Not an excuse, mind you – just an explanation to help you with compassion so you can move on.
- Forgiveness is not acceptance and it doesn’t mean you have to remain a target to be hurt again. You can forgive and then make sure you protect yourself from allowing the same person to hurt you again.
- Get outside help if you need it. Some hurts are far too severe to simply forgive on our own. You may need the help of a therapist, a clergy member, or a support group. But whatever help you need – get it and the sooner the better for you and your health.
The fact is this – forgiveness works wonders for your health, your relationships with others, and your peace of mind. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? Justifying resentment doesn’t lead to happiness and a reduction in stress. But forgiveness does!