Forgiveness is the act of letting go of thoughts of vengeance towards self, others, or events that have caused you harm.
Studies have repeatedly shown that individuals who harbor their feelings of hurt, pain, and disappointment are likely to see its effects on their physical and emotional well-being. In the last three decades, we have learned that lack of forgiveness can lead to increased blood pressure, increase the risk of cancer, coronary heart diseases, and multiple physical ailments. Some studies have also shown that a lack of forgiveness can impact your mental health dearly. It has been shown through research that mental ailments like anxiety, stress, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc. can result from holding onto past hurt and grudges.
Our past and present are testaments that we as humans are capable of hurting one another. At the same time, people who have been hurt or harmed by others are likely to have to avenge themselves. This vengeance creates a cycle of pain and revenge. But, if we let go of these grudges and bitterness, whether one seeks our forgiveness or not, we become stronger, healthier, and happier. Let us understand how practicing the art of forgiveness can benefit us. Forgiveness can help us:
Improve our immune system: It has been seen in the research of Enright and others that practicing forgiveness lowers the risk of infections as well as diseases by improving the functioning of our immune systems. It also reduces the likelihood of autoimmune diseases like lupus etc.
Reduces stress: We all are aware of the impact of stress on our bodies and psychological health. Lack of forgiveness adds to one’s level of stress as it makes one ruminate, obsess over thoughts of hurt that was caused to them and time may be spent wishing the perpetrator ill or plotting revenge. This is unhelpful for an individual but as one practices forgiveness, the stress levels reduce considerably.
Improved mental and physical health: Practicing forgiveness helps decrease chances of stroke, brain diseases, improves heart functioning, and improves mood. It makes one happier, decreases anxiety, depressive symptoms, reduces anger, and boosts self-esteem.
Improves relationships: Often it is assumed that if we forgive someone, we forget the hurt they may have caused us and reconcile with them. However, that is not the case. Forgiveness does not mean we forget or reconcile. It means we have let go of the hurt by remembering that the person is capable of harm. This means that by letting go, we also renew our boundaries with them. Boundary setting helps improve our overall relationship with ourselves as well as the people around us.
Makes you grateful and independent: As you practice forgiveness, you move past the hurt or damage that has been caused to you. This helps you move away from feelings of self-pity. You may also become more appreciative of the good in life, making you feel grateful or see the positives of life. This makes you independent by breaking the shackles put on you by your perpetrator.
To conclude, one can say that letting go is one of the hardest things to do but taking revenge or wishing ill of others impacts our mental and physical health more dearly. Hence, one must learn to forgive by realizing the umpteen benefits of forgiveness.
Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.
MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.
About the Author.
Bavleen Mehta is a psychologist at MindTribe.in. You can learn more about her by clicking here
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MindTribe.in, the Founders, or management team.
Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.