Health benefits of forgiveness
Have you ever experienced the feeling of resentment when you are about to cry? Or the feeling of being blue and nothing can make you happy? Have you ever been so consumed with the question “Why did they do this to me?” If you have, you may find the information below useful and… healing.
When does a person feel offended? When they, as they believe, are treated unfairly, when the words or actions of the offender are hurtful and similarly to arrows get into the most painful points. Everyone gets offended, there is no exception, but some may get angry every day, while the lucky ones can refrain from holding a grudge no more than once a month.
Unforgiveness, or inability to forgive someone, is a tricky thing; it takes away our time, strength and peace of mind. Some severe grievances turn into heavy stones and dwell in people’s hearts for many years. But regardless of the length of the grudge, the result is always the same – self-pity, distrust, isolation, and health problems. The last is what we are going to focus on now.
How does unforgiveness affect health?
In medicine, there is a unique science known as psychosomatics that studies the influence of psychological factors on somatic (bodily) diseases. It turns out that the root cause of many diseases are things that begin in our mind or thoughts. According to Louise Hay, the American motivational writer of many self-help books, many times holding a grudge can result in bodily diseases (“Heal Your Body”). There are some of the most common conditions:
- Excess weight – Without letting go of anger, with prolonged stress and resentment, a person can experience a shortage of positive emotions and food can become a main source of pleasure. In this state, the desire for comfort eating can occur more often and can get out of control. Over time, it results in extra weight and possibly deeper depression.
- Throat diseases – If you are inclined to frequent diseases of the throat and doctors can’t see any reason for that, it is worth thinking about whether or not you are lacking forgiveness. Often throat conditions can be caused by a person holding a grunge or swallowing one’s pride. Letting go of anger can be an effective treatment for such conditions.
- Heart diseases – Heart conditions such as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, heart seizure, and heart attack can also be caused by hidden resentment or holding a grunge.
The suppressed grievance is destructive for one’s physical and psychological state. There is only one effective method to overcome lack of forgiveness – forgive and forget. Easier said than done!
To help a person cope with resentment and understand the importance of forgiveness, the REACH technique was designed by Everett Worthington and later published in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. REACH is an abbreviation that stands for:
Recall – be objective and recall your hurt. Blame no one and break out of a victim mentality.
Empathize – reach empathy by visualizing the situation from the point of view of your offender.
Altruistic gift – just think about the situations when you did something wrong and forgive for good. Be altruistic in forgiving others because you have also been forgiven when you wronged someone.
Commit – you already know how to forgive someone, once you do it, write that on a piece of paper for the sake of commitment, for example, “I forgave (name) today for hurting me.”
Hold on – your commitment won’t let you forget about the fact that you have already forgiven a person. If there is a temptation, just re-read that note.
Such forgiveness therapy helped Everett Worthington forgive the guys who beat his mother to death. No matter what your reasons for holding a grudge are, think of health benefits of forgiveness you can benefit from and what side effects of unforgiveness you will elude. It takes some time to practice but it brings both spiritual and physical healing. Let go of grudges and be healthy!