How Forgiveness Keeps You Healthy

The Mind And Soul Affect The Body


Anyone who’s had a stress headache or gotten nausea in the pit of their stomach when afraid knows all too well how much our minds and spirits affect our physical bodies. From stress hormones to emotional triggers, there is no denying that to be in true physical health, you have to address emotional health as well.

One of the most common factors standing in the way of emotional health for people is unforgiveness.

Holding on to grudges or old pain could be causing you far more physical problems than you may realize. Let’s take a look at what true forgiveness can do for your body and your lifespan.

Forgiving unconditionally could mean a longer lifespan.

People who practice conditional forgiveness — in other words, people who can only forgive if others say sorry first or promise not to do the transgression again — may be more likely to die earlier, compared with people who are less likely to practice conditional forgiveness, according to a a 2011 study in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.


The Luther College researchers explained that apologies can help to move the forgiveness process along, but if “sorry” is a necessary condition for forgiveness, “then there will likely be fewer instances of forthcoming forgiveness for that individual.”


“This is due simply to the fact that those who cause an offense will not always fulfill such conditions, regardless of their appropriateness, and the offended party does not have the power to make them occur,” they wrote in the study.


Making amends helps you forgive yourself.


When you are the one who needs forgiveness, making amends with the person you wronged can better help you to forgive yourself, Baylor University researchers found.


In research published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, people who asked for forgiveness for a wrongdoing were found to be more likely to feel like it was OK to forgive themselves. The research also showed that in a hypothetical situation, making amends with a friend who they committed a wrongdoing toward increased the likelihood of the study participants self-forgiving.


“One barrier people face in forgiving themselves is that they feel they deserve to feel bad. Our study found that making amends gives us permission to let go,” study researcher Thomas Carpenter, of Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences, said in a statement.
– via The Huffington Post

Want To Reduce Your Stress? Invest In Forgiveness


The impact of actively practicing forgiveness is not just a general “it’s good for your health!” suggestion. There are tons of very specific, researched ways in which letting go of old pain or anger can change your health for the better.

Here are just a few.

Lower blood pressure

When we no longer feel anxiety or anger because of past grievances, our heart rate evens out and our blood pressure drops. This normalizes many processes in the body and brings us into coherence with our heart and circulatory system.


Stress reduction

Forgiveness eases stress because we no longer recycle thoughts (both consciously and subconsciously) that cause psychic stress to arise. By offering our burdens for healing, we learn how to leave irritation and stress behind.


Less hostility

By its very nature, forgiveness asks us to let go of hostility toward ourselves and others.  Spontaneous hostile behavior, like road rage and picking a fight for no reason, goes down as our commitment to forgiveness goes up.


Better anger-management skills

With fewer and fewer burdens from the past weighing us down, we can have more self-control when we do get angry. We’ll be better able to take some breaths, count to ten, take a time-out or get some exercise—rather than strike out at someone in anger.


Lower risk of alcohol or substance abuse

This is a big one. I feel this is one of the biggest and best reasons to jump into a forgiveness practice without delay. Substance abuse is a mask for underlying pain. Forgiveness helps us release that pain and find the gifts in our situation instead.


Fewer depression symptoms

Similar to lowering substance abuse, this is a crucial issue for many people. Depression is debilitating and can lead to suicide. On the other hand, forgiveness gives us healing and grace, and can replace depression with a sense of purpose and compassion.


Fewer anxiety symptoms

Almost everyone needs to forgive him or herself as well as others. Anxiety often arises when we fear that we’ve done something wrong. Our guilty conscience causes anxiety at a deep level. Forgiveness helps us to love ourselves deeply, relieving us of inner pain.


Reduction in chronic pain

Physical pain often has a psychological cause. When we allow a profound shift to happen with forgiveness, we heal ourselves on both psychological and physical levels. Thus, chronic pain can be reversed and we can come back to health.
– via WisdomTimes

Have you ever considered adding forgiveness into your daily practice?



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