Spring is here and while the earth is warming and flowers are blooming, wouldn’t you also like to feel the radiance of spring in your life? If so, try forgiving someone and replacing those hurt feelings with something more positive.
When was the last time you forgave someone? I mean really truly in your heart, mind and body released all of the emotional charge around an event or person whom you felt caused you pain? If you are at a crossroads with yourself about whether or not you should let go of your attachment to the past and the hurt associated with it, my hope is that your vanity for your looks and good health will outweigh the burden that carrying around resentment has on you.
When we are angry with someone, the person who suffers most is us. Anger feels dangerous because it is dangerous to our bodies and our minds. Conversely, forgiveness feels like freedom because it is a relief for our bodies and our minds. Scientists have studied the effects of forgiveness, and you may be pleasantly surprised at how much something that takes so little effort can benefit you.
Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Hope College, has been researching anger and forgiveness. In 2001, she conducted a study of the physiological responses 71 college students. One group of participants dwelt on injustices which were perpetrated against them, and the other group pictured themselves forgiving those who had offended them. The professor notes that, “When focused on unforgiving responses, their blood pressure surged, their heart rates increased, brow muscles tensed, and negative feelings escalated. By contrast, forgiving responses induced calmer feelings and physical responses. It appears that harboring unforgiveness comes at an emotional and a physiological cost. Cultivating forgiveness cut these costs.”
Fred Luskin, Ph.D., author of Forgive for Good also believes in the power of forgiveness to heal the body. He says, “When you’re stuck in a grudge, you’re isolated in your own suffering. The long term damage to the cardiovascular system from bitterness and resentment is clearly established. The power of forgiveness also boosts immunity in the short run, helping the body fend off colds and flu.”
Everett Worthington, Jr., Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and author of several books on forgiveness. He has found that unforgiving people tend to have more negative indicators of health than forgiving people. They have higher stress levels, lower immune system function, and increased rates of heart disease. They also divorce more often than the general population. In contrast, forgiving people suffer fewer episodes of clinical depression, enjoy longer marriages and larger social networks, indicating that they get along better with others than their unforgiving counterparts.
According to an article in Harvard Women’s Health Watch, people who forgive also feel less pain than unforgiving people. They note that “A small study on people with chronic back pain found that those who practiced meditation focusing on converting anger to compassion felt less pain and anxiety than those who received regular care.” The previously mentioned Dr. Luskin also echoed this finding, noting that his subjects who were trained in forgiveness “reported fewer headaches, backaches, and upset stomachs.”
There are numerous ways that forgiveness can benefit you. Collectively research suggests that people who make the effort to forgive sleep better, are happier, have more long lasting relationships, less stress, and less incidence of disease. Conversely, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness have been linked to cancer and other undesirable health conditions. So if you value your health, forgiveness is an extraordinarily inexpensive way to care for your body and your mind. It may not benefit you, but you have nothing to lose by trying it, so why not forgive someone today?
If you are have trouble taking the steps necessary to forgive download my Radiant Beauty Guided meditation CD and receive access to Kenetia’s Makeover Matters where I provide you with tip and techniques to liberate the beauty in you.