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Why Learning About Forgiveness Is Important and Can Actually Improve Your Health!


Why is it so hard?

According to the Oxford Languages dictionary, the word 'forgive' means to

  • stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

  • cancel (a debt).

  • used in polite expressions as a request to excuse or regard indulgently one's foibles, ignorance, or impoliteness.

I’m OK with the last definition, but man, oh man, has it been quite challenging to do the first two definitions.

Can you relate?

Has something happened, and you’re having a hard time forgiving, letting go, and going on with your life?

Have you noticed how miserable you feel when the person or memory comes back in your life?

Did you know it’s possible to make peace with the situation? To really and truly forgive and ‘let it go’? To see the person or remember (not dwell) on the memory without the overwhelming feelings rushing in?

And you're right, I don't know.

But I know that I've had to forgive people who range from 8-10 (with 10 being the worse) on the People-Who-Did-Me-Wrong Scale.

To begin the process of forgiving, letting go, and moving on with life- first, we need to truly understand how toxic unforgiveness is.

Let's look at WHY forgiveness is so important.

You may have heard that unforgiveness is like drinking poison expecting the other person to be hurt. Yeah, it's kinda like that.

Let’s briefly look at the physical health effects of unforgiveness.

According to the article Forgiveness: Your Health Depends Upon It,

“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease, and diabetes, among other conditions.
Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health."

And in the article Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness they share the emotional effects …

"What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you're unforgiving, you might:

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience

  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present

  • Become depressed or anxious

  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs

  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others"