Before we start with this article I would like to ask you a simple question – have you felt hurt or betrayed; have you ever been so bitter and upset towards a situation or person that you could not imagine forgiving them? You don’t have to answer that, because we already know the answer. Yes, we live in a cruel world and we’ve all been hurt and betrayed.
The worst thing about this is that you may have even replayed the event(s) over and over in your head. And, the experts warn that with each repetition, your feelings intensify and you feel much worse about yourself and about the situation. Ladies and gentlemen, you should be very careful, because there is evidence to prove that harboring these emotions can negatively impact your health.
What’s forgiveness? Well, forgiveness from a clinical perspective is the process of relinquishing one’s feeling of resentment and thoughts of vengeance. Forgiveness also includes the process of fostering compassion, generosity, and even love towards those who have inflicted pain. We all know that forgiveness is not an easy thing to do. Clinicians will undoubtedly tell you if your wounds are deep and traumas many you will need more time to heal. But, let me tell you something – forgiveness is possible and I believe necessary. Just take a look at the article below and find out more about this. Over 15 years ago there lacked any research on the impact of forgiveness on our health. Thankfully to date, there are hundreds of scientific papers and clinicians ready to share their knowledge with us.
Forgiveness Improves Your Life
I would like to start this with the impact of staying angry, being frustrated or feeling negative about an event. The famous Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, says that holding onto these negative emotions creates a chronic state of anxiety.
This produces a predictable excess of adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells. He says that these cells are your protection against cancer. This means that if you refuse to forgive it not only makes you sick but can keep you that way.
A recent randomized controlled trial, with more than 83 cancer patients, evaluated feelings of forgiveness, pessimism, and self-acceptance after taking a course in self-forgiveness. The course taught techniques such as reflection, expressive writing etc. And, guess what – the patients that took the course had statistically significant higher scores for self-forgiveness, acceptance, self-improvement, and lower pessimism scores compared to the control group.
Forgiveness Helps You Feel Better About Yourself
Yes, you got that right – forgiveness will help you feel much better about yourself. How this works – well, the experts say that if you think of an old memory of being mistreated, hurt, or offended you automatically start to feel unwell. The fact is that there are immediate emotional and/or physiological responses that occur when you are having these memories.
Note: these responses include:
- Your blood pressure increases
- Your muscles tighten
- You start to swell
The experts warn that these are all signs of stress and anxiety. A recent study has revealed that participants who practice empathy and forgiveness to those who do them wrong have a lowered stress response. To further deepen this point, roughly 1,500 Americans who forgave reported greater satisfaction with their lives, less distress symptoms, less nervousness, and less sadness. You’ll be amazed when we tell you that forgiveness even helps in cases of severe emotional abuse.
Study – women were placed into two treatment groups:
- The first using techniques such as anger validation, assertiveness, interpersonal skill building, and the second using forgiveness.
- Women in the forgiveness group had significant improvements in depression scores, post-traumatic stress symptom, self-esteem, less anxiety, and better overall mastery of their life.
Months later all these gains were still present! YAY! Forgiveness is powerful!
Forgiveness Positively Impacts Your Immunity
Forgiveness can also improve and super-charge your immune system as well. A recent study assessed 78 medicated HIV patients for feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of forgiveness. Participants who truly forgave had higher percentages of CD4 immune cancer-fighting cells! The improvement of blood pressure and cardiovagal tone is yet another benefit of forgiveness. Researchers have been able to show that forgiveness has a cardio-protective effect on the heart. While anger, is cardio-toxic, which damages the heart muscle.
Forgiveness Benefits Your Quality of Sleep
Forgiveness will improve your sleep as well. A recent study has revealed that forgiveness of interpersonal transgressions is related to better sleep. While staying resentful, angry or even keeping hostile feelings around relate to a poorer quality of sleep.
And, ladies and gentlemen – the list doesn’t stop here! Yes, it goes on and on. Just remember – the health benefits of forgiveness are monumental. Now that you have some facts, think and devise a forgiveness plan. Start by forgiving yourself, and then move onto forgiving others. If you do not know how to forgive, contact a spiritual psychotherapist or psychologist in your area for help. And, one last thing – it is time to let go of past grievances. It is time to feel lighter. It is time to be free of the past to create space for a brighter present! We really hope you find this article helpful and don’t hesitate to share it with your friends and family. And remember – forgiveness will improve your life. So, you should start by forgiving yourself.