As more and more scientists document the healing power of forgiveness, they also look at the mentally and physically corrosive effects of not forgiving.
Hanging on to anger and resentment causes stress and living in a constant state of stress can damage the heart as well as the soul. In fact, research has shown that failure to forgive may be a risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, and a handful of other chronic stress-related illnesses.
Medical and psychological studies have also shown that a person holding on to anger and resentment is at an increased risk for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and is more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, ulcers, migraines, backaches, heart attack, and even cancer.
The reverse is also true. Genuine forgiveness can transform these ailments. Genuine forgiveness requires us to release the pent up energy we are keeping against others which has the ability to poison our human experience physically. If we do not allow said energy to metabolize it by acknowledging it, facing and releasing it, it will inevitably lead to an early grave.
In the end, science will prove what people have known for millennia: forgiving is good for us. Health benefits are only the beginning.
To forgive is also to release oneself from whatever trauma and hardship experienced and to reclaim ones life as their own.
Ultimately, forgiveness is a choice we have the opportunity to make every day. The ability to forgive others comes from the recognition that we are all flawed and all human. We all have made mistakes and harmed others. We will again.
We find it easier to practice forgiveness when we can recognize that the roles could have been reversed. Each of us could have been the perpetrator rather than the victim. Each of us has the capacity to commit the wrongs against others that were committed against us.
When we are uncaring, when we lack compassion, when we are unforgiving, we will always pay the price for it. It is not, however, we alone who suffer. Our whole community suffers, and ultimately our whole world suffers.
We are made to exist in a delicate network of interdependence. We are sisters and brothers, whether we like it or not. To treat anyone as if they were less than human, less than a brother or a sister, no matter what they have done, is to contravene the very laws of our humanity.
When we maintain a relationship with someone with whom we have not fully forgiven we invite involuntarily conflict into the relationship through unresolved feelings. The act that grants forgiveness from us may have happened a long time ago or we have buried it in our subconscious in an attempt to forget. However, we can notice their presence in our minds through uninvited negative feelings and actions towards those we still haven’t forgiven. This is where honesty comes into play. To be honest about our feelings is far less harmful than carrying unresolved ones. Especially because regardless how long we hold them, they will come out sooner or later and probably in explosive and damaging ways. For this reason, honesty is always the best policy, even if it results in an uncomfortable response because a discomfort caused by honest expression is nothing compared to the discomfort we invite by being dishonest and deceptive about our feelings.
Throughout our life we will encounter situations that will require us to forgive ourselves just as much as others. Most of us get caught up in our own actions or mistakes for which we tend to beat ourselves up for. By dwelling on our actions and mistakes we are inviting a wave of negative self-talk into our minds. Rather than doing that, we must remember that we are simply just human.
We learn by living.
We must forgive ourselves for every regret that we hold and the reason behind it. We can not control what happens in our lives, but we most certainly can control how we think about it and how we deal with it. Everything that happens to us, everyone that we meet are simply lessons of some extent. When we know this, we should not even put our minds in position to forgive ourselves, we must understand that things just happen and we simply react to them. Just because we think we “should have” or “could have” reacted differently, doesn’t change the fact that we didn’t and that is okay. We must simply accept.
Once we realise and accept that we are simply here to have a human experience for all it is and entails, we realise there is no right or wrong answer to how we should act or react. Therefore, there is no wrong reaction. Every moment, especially the disappointing ones are simply learning opportunities. Once we contemplate the what and why behind our actions, we understand why we acted how we did. We realise that there is nothing to forgive ourselves for. Only through facing discomfort we grow, learn and become the strong self-realized beings we came here to be.
Maybe it’s not so much about what did we come here to do, maybe it is about who we came here to be? But we can only find out whom we came to be when we stop doing.
Forgiveness is acceptance, it is letting go. Forgiveness is detachment, forgiveness is freedom from the inside to the outside.
© Healing to Health