I have to be honest and say that I had a hard time writing this piece. While being an integral step on the road to good health, forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to me. I am a very loyal person...loyal to a fault at times.
Maybe it's an innate nature. Maybe it's the result of my past. Who knows. Either way....forgiveness is something that we all need to work on. Myself, particularly.
Forgiveness is not just about saying the words. “It is an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings whether the person deserves it or not,” Swartz says. As you release the anger, resentment and hostility, you begin to feel empathy, compassion and sometimes even affection for the person who wronged you. It does not mean having to forget or condone the wrongdoing committed against you.
Studies have found that some people are just naturally more forgiving. Consequently, they tend to be more satisfied with their lives and to have less depression, anxiety, stress, anger and hostility. People who hang on to grudges, however, are more likely to experience severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as other health conditions.
Here are all the physical and mental benefits you can reap by learning to forgive:
- Forgiving unconditionally could mean a longer lifespan.
- It gets you out of that angry mode.
- It helps your health across the board (including your sleep!).
- Making amends helps you forgive yourself.
- Your heart will thank you, with lowered risk for cardiac disease.
- It could have immune system benefits.
- It can strengthen your relationship after infidelity.
- Being a forgiving person could protect against long term stress.