Your holistic health can be put on hold because of what you can’t forgive. Currently, there is scientific evidence that states that there is a connection between the two. To make it plainer the inability to forgive yourself or others could be considered a health risk. You might be tempted to just place this in the mental health category, but that would be ignoring the signs that are shown in the body.
Forgiveness is a big deal. It doesn’t always happen at one time, sometimes it is a process. To forgive is to let go of the negative feelings, vengefulness, and attitude connected with the offense. With forgiveness there is a change of attitude, you can wish your offender well and move on. This way of forgiving invites freedom and a new start. Maybe even a new relationship. But what happens when it doesn’t happen like that?
The Body’s Response
Stress can result when things aren’t settled within us. It can cause tension in your body, create problems with how you process information or cause you to cope by engaging in behaviors that are not healthy for example overeating, smoking or other things. When the problem is not resolved it can challenge the way you view yourself. The American Journal of Public Health had an article where they questioned if forgiveness was a public health issue. A study was done where it was shown how forgiveness is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility, reduced nicotine dependence and substance abuse, higher positive emotion, higher satisfaction with life, higher social support, and fewer self-reported health symptoms (VanderWeele, 2018). This reflects light on the importance of forgiveness.
The Path to Forgiveness
To forgive is something we all must face in our life. I like to think of it as the door that releases, empowers, and redeems you to a state of inward peace. This is not how I have always thought of it though. My own experience with forgiveness was not easy. So, I don’t want to paint you a pretty picture of such a life-changing event. But because I have taken the journey and was able to forgive, I can tell you it was worth the process I went through to get there. There is a space of understanding what you are forgiving and then understanding what that means for you moving forward.
The benefits of forgiveness must be weighed and reasoned with. The thing we wrestle with can vary for each of us, the result of pain whether it be physical or mental we can probably agree on as where it left us, hurt. Allow yourself to entertain the question, “How can I just forgive and let it go?” This is an acceptable way to think because you must be ready to do just that, no matter what the damage was. You forgive knowing that time won’t be recovered and that the person you are forgiving may even see the events from a different perspective and they are not the blame for the hurt you have experienced.
Forgiveness is more for you than the other person. I want this to ring through you like a loud-sounding trumpet. When you truly forgive, you invite healing holistically. Forgiveness is empowering because it places us in the position to move into the next position. Burdens are heavy, the longer we carry them the worse it gets, and the more it weighs us down physically and emotionally. In the act of forgiving we can also engage in empathy, we can allow our self to understand what the other person was going through that caused them to hurt us. This is another hurdle that may be challenging to do. That is why I encourage you to take the time to understand what you are getting into with forgiveness, but at the same time, it explains why it is such a big deal and accomplishment when it can be done.
Moving on in life is the path of progression. If we can let go, we can focus on what is ahead instead of what is behind us. Hurt and pain seem to be two things that will be a part of life in some way. You may also find that you need to forgive more than once in your lifetime. I challenge you amid it all to find a way to grow and become better. That is where you realize your best self and how to express it in the most meaningful way.
VanderWeele, T.J. (2018). Is forgiveness a public health issue? American Journal of Public Health, 108:189-190.