What Forgiveness Does to Our Health




"Forgiveness is accepting that the past could not have been any different."


These words aren't always easy to digest. Forgiveness is a part of life that teaches us how to surrender for the sake of our healing. It can be our greatest teacher by helping us understand that other human beings' wrongdoings represent their individual pain and suffering. And unfortunately, with this comes victims of their suffering. As a victim, it can feel unfair and cause us anger - but once we see ourselves no longer as victims, but survivors, we move from a phase of stagnation to growth, strength, and wisdom.


In psychology, forgiveness is shown to be associated with a reduction in negative emotions (such as anger, anxiety, and grief) for those who have suffered from trauma (Frontier). Forgiveness is also proven to have physiological benefits such as lowering the risk of a heart attack, improving cholesterol levels and sleep, and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress (John Hopkins). On the other hand, chronic anger puts us into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and immune response. Then, those changes increase the risk of depression, heart disease, and diabetes, among other conditions.


The past hurts and forgiveness can take time - you can't rush the process. We often see forgiveness as an act of "transcendence" or being the "better person, but once we turn our act of forgiveness from a personal choice into an obligation, we move away from our original intention to free ourselves from our pain. So take your time; forgiveness comes in many ebbs and flows, shapes and forms, highs and lows, forgives, and "unforgives". But take your time and remember that forgiveness is not about letting anyone get away with their bad choices but about choosing to create your own happiness and health.



Sources:


Frontier: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01425/full#B34Forgiveness%20is%20accepting%20that%20the%20past%20could%20not%20have%20been%20any%20different.


John Hopkins: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/forgiveness-your-health-depends-on-it#:~:text=The%20good%20news%3A%20Studies%20have,of%20anxiety%2C%20depression%20and%20stress.

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