Carrying around a grudge, whether that’s on behalf of another person or yourself, doesn’t just make you bitter and angry, it may also negatively impact your health.
It’s not easy to forgive, especially when someone willfully hurts us – physically, verbally, emotionally or financially – but not forgiving comes at a price. When we hold on to our grudges, we hold on to everything that comes with it… anger, anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, weight gain or loss, loss of trust in ourselves and others and even some serious health issues.
Forgiveness means that we consciously decide to let go of that anger, vengeance or resentment toward the other person who has harmed us in some way. Forgiveness however does not mean that you condone the wrongdoing. You simply decide that forgiving is the smarter choice for yourself to be able to move on as a happier and healthier person.
Here are out TOP 10 reasons why forgiveness is good for your own sake.
#1 Forgiveness Gets You Out of Angry Mode
When you hold on to your grudges and are chronically angry, you are in a constant fight-or-flight mode, which negatively affects your health and overall well-being. When you learn to truly forgive and let go of your grudges, you can lower your stress levels and with that tamper down your anger mode. Keep in mind, not being able to forgive someone is associated with feelings of not being in control, sadness, more anger and arousal. Don’t you want to lift that heaviness and live a freer, happier life?
#2 Forgiveness Makes Exercise Easier
One of the physical side effects of unresolved issues and resentments is that it is physically weighing us down. Interestingly enough, two separate studies showed that if you can consciously forgive someone who has wronged you, it is much easier to exercise afterwards than if you dwell on the situation without finding a resolution. Write down the hurtful incident, resolve to forgive it and release the feelings associated with and you’ll be able to jump higher, run faster and lift more weight. So the next time you decide to run a marathon, think about forgiveness before the race.
#3 Forgiveness Lowers Cortisol Levels
As we mentioned earlier, holding on to grudges and being resentful and angry is extremely stressful and forgiveness is tied to several health benefits that stem from reducing this angry stress level. A recent study showed that people who were forgiving significantly lowered their levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone that can wreak havoc with our bodies and can prompt us to retain fat and gain weight. Keep in mind, resolving the issues with the person who has wronged you doesn’t just avoid serious damage to your health it can also save your relationships.
#4 Forgiveness Boosts Your Immune System
If you can truly forgive, you may be able to give a big boost to your immune system. A recent study showed that forgiveness leads to a higher percentage of the kind of white blood cells that are essential for proper immune function. Researches tied the correlation between forgiveness and the increase in white blood cells to the fact that forgiveness releases the intense stress that is associated with it and with that helps the immune system to work at its best to protect against infection and disease.
#5 Forgiveness Lowers Blood Pressure
One of the most famous studies on the impact of forgiveness on the body called ‘A change of heart’, asked participants to think about incidents of hurt and betrayal in their lives. If they had been able to let go of the incident and forgive the other person, they had significantly lower blood pressure levels as well as heart rate while they were talking about the incident and their blood pressure was going back to normal quicker after a stressful event.
#6 Forgiveness Eases Chronic Pain
Another study looked into the pain levels of people living with chronic pain and divided the test subjects into a group who simply continued to take their pain medication while the other group participated in a Buddhist class on kindness, loving and forgiveness. The group of people who had learned about loving kindness and forgiveness showed significantly lower levels of pain as well as lower anxiety levels. While positivity may not help you to get cured, the study found that forgiveness lowers your perception of pain.
#7 Forgiveness Lowers Cholesterol
Forgiving others has a positive effect on your cholesterol levels and a study on forgiveness and cardiovascular health showed that you can lower your overall cholesterol levels by letting go of grudges. Researchers tie the results to the relationship between resentment, anger and stress as high cholesterol levels have been linked to perceived stress and hating another person is seen as perceived stress.
#8 Forgiveness Strengthens Relationships
If you have the ability to forgive, you have a chance to change and grow old relationships and can enter new relationships because we release the angry energy and make room for more positive, loving energy that helps to nourish relationships. You don’t have to deal with any drama anymore and can improve all of your relationships, whether that’s with your lover, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers or your boss.
#9 Forgiveness Improves Psychological Well-Being
When you can release your anger and grudges, your life will improve on all levels. You will feel calmer and happier, nightmares stop and you can develop exciting new life visions for yourself. The quality of your life improves as do your relationships and you have more fun, all of which are things that we all hope for, but sometimes don’t know how to create. Forgiveness is the answer.
#10 Forgiveness Extends Life
Holding on to your anger and grudges may shorten your life. According to a recent study, those who had the ability to forgive the person who had hurt them seemed to live longer than their non-forgiving counterparts. If you want to extend your life span, learn to forgive and you’ll live a longer, happier and healthier life.
Even though verbally accepting an apology and saying ‘it’s okay’ may go hand in hand with forgiveness, remember that it is not the same thing. In order to truly forgive, you have to let go of the negative thoughts towards the other person as well as the anger you feel and do that deep within yourself as well as outwardly. Forgiveness is a state of mind, not just a formality and with that state of mind, you can lift a heavy burden – physically and mentally.
EMBRACE FORGIVENESS AND MOVE ON
Joschi & Monika