Forgiving is Good for Your Health

By Published On: March 13, 20243 min readViews: 4680 Comments on Forgiving is Good for Your Health

What was it that got you all riled up?

Was it a little thing that was pretty easy to forgive, like your partner loading the dishwasher all wrong?

Or was it something really bad, like your BFF seeing
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour movie without you?

Or maybe you were even mad at yourself for messing up a good thing?

Whatever it was, forgiving yourself or others means letting go of resentment — and it can be really complicated.

But if you can find it in your heart to do it, science says your heart will thank you. In fact,
research shows that the act of forgiveness can lower the risk of heart attack, reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

Read: Symptoms of Heart Attacks in Women >>

Forgiveness can have a positive impact on mental health, too, by lowering levels of anxiety, depression and stress.

“You lower stress in general because it’s stressful to carry a grudge subconsciously and consciously,” said
Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist who specializes in life transitions, motivation and self-esteem. “The heaviness can leave you feeling depressed and weigh you down — and it is draining.”

In addition to health benefits, forgiving a person may help your relationships overall. Thomas said holding a grudge can hold you back from trusting new people because you never healed from the past. “You may not even realize you’re holding onto stuff more or longer than you should and it’s triggering old feelings even when it has nothing to do with a new person.”

Forgiveness may not be for everyone. One way to know if you’re ready to try to forgive is to check your feelings. If you’re not driven by emotion or your feelings are less intense than before, you may be in a place where you can forgive, according to Thomas.

Here are 4 tips from Thomas on how to move forward toward forgiveness.

  1. Write a letter to yourself about the situation. Write down the whole story about what happened from your perspective and be as objective as possible. The letter is just for you — you’re not going to give it to the person that harmed you — but writing everything down helps you look at the full picture.

    Then write down what you’ve learned. How do you feel about that person today after some distance and reflection? Are you able to see both sides of the situation? This is good to do as prep before a conversation and can also be a gauge for your feelings.

  2. Reflect on your relationship with the person you’re trying to forgive. Ask yourself how you’ve benefited from having that person in your life. This gives you an opportunity to identify the positives about the relationship.
  3. Talk it out with the person you’re trying to forgive. Talking about the situation gives both people a chance to see if you can work it out or clear up any misinterpretations on either side. Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting so be upfront about your intentions and expectations. For example, let that person know you’re trying to forgive them but in the future you need to see a change in behavior or whatever it is that can help you move forward.
  4. Seek professional help. Sometimes, it’s not healthy to engage with the person you’re trying to forgive or you just need some outside help to get there. A psychologist who works on relationships and is knowledgeable about forgiveness can help you move past whatever it is you need to forgive.

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