The Benefits of Forgiveness Improve Your Health and Life
Have you felt hurt or betrayed? Have you ever been so bitter and upset towards a situation or person that you could not imagine forgiving them? You may have even replayed the event(s) over and over in your head. With each repetition, your feelings intensify and you feel worse about yourself and it. There is evidence to prove that harboring these emotions can negatively impact your health. Thus the subject of forgiveness surfaces to the top of this blog!
Forgiveness from a clinical perspective is the process of relinquishing one’s feeling of resentment and thoughts of vengeance. Forgiveness also includes the process of fostering compassion, generosity, and even love towards those who have inflicted pain.
It is obviously not an easy thing to do. Clinicians will undoubtedly tell you if your wounds are deep and traumas many you will need more time to heal. Nonetheless, forgiveness is possible and I believe necessary. Let me tell you why?
Over 15 years ago there lacked any research on the benefits of forgiveness for our health. Thankfully to date, there are hundreds of scientific papers and clinicians ready to share their knowledge with us.
The Negative Effects of Anger
Let us start with the impact of staying angry, being frustrated or feeling negative about an event. Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, says that holding onto these negative emotions creates a chronic state of anxiety.
This produces a predictable excess of adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells. These cells are your protection against cancer. If you refuse to forgive it not only makes you sick but can keep you that way.
Since we are on the topic of cancer, a neat randomized controlled trial with over 83 cancer patients evaluated feelings of forgiveness, pessimism, and self-acceptance after taking a course in self-forgiveness. The course taught techniques such as reflection, expressive writing etc.
As expected, the patients that took the course had statistically significant higher scores for self-forgiveness, acceptance, self-improvement, and lower pessimism scores compared to the control group.