Forgiving someone who hurt you deeply can be one of the hardest things to do. But holding a grudge may be bad for your health. Letting go of resentment and the desires for revenge has several health benefits. For cancer patients, forgiveness means they can focus inhaling instead of the negativity of past wrongs.
What does it mean to forgive?
- Forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment, desire for revenge and ill-will towards the person who wronged you.
- Forgiveness is a natural resolution of the grief process.
- Forgiveness is a choice we make for our own well being. It does not depend on an apology from the person who wronged you.
- Forgiveness brings peace that helps you go on with your life.
Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation.
- Reconciliation is the coming together of two people in mutual respect. It requires both parties working together.
- Forgiveness is entirely up to you.
- It’s possible to forgive without res-establishing or continuing the relationship.
Forgiveness is not forgetting.
- Forgetting a wrong might lead you to deny or suppress feelings about it.
Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing.
- Forgiveness does not minimise, justify or excuse the wrong that was done.
What are the negative effects of holding a grudge?
Being hurt by someone you love and trust might make you feel angry, sad or confused. Holding a grudge affects our cardiovascular and nervous system. Researchers found that people had increases in their heart rates, blood pressure and muscle tension when they thought about being wronged. They also felt less in control. Forgiveness can reverse the effects of holding a grudge. Dwelling on hurtful events or situations may lead to :
- Sense of Injustice
What are the health benefits of forgiveness?
According to research, people who forgive are most likely to have :
- Fewer episodes of depression
- High self esteem
- More friends
- Healthier relationships
- Longer marriages
- Lower blood pressure
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Closer relationships
- Fewer stress related health issues
- Better immune system function
- Lower rates of heart disease
- Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
- Greater spiritual and psychological well being
Those who forgive are more likely to be happy, serene, empathetic, hopeful and agreeable. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.
How to forgive?
Forgiveness is a process of change. By letting go of the grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt.
- Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life.
- Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted and how this combination has affected your life, health and well being.
- When you’re ready, choose to forgive the person who’s wronged you.
- Step out of your role as victim.
- Release the control and power the hurtful person or situation had in your life.