'It would give us some comfort if we could only forget a past that we cannot change. If we could only choose to forget the cruelest moments, we could as time goes on, free ourselves from their pain. But the wrong sticks like a nettle in our memory. The only way to remove the nettle is with the surgical procedure called forgiveness.' Smedes, The Art of Forgiving
There are so many aspects of our lives that we cling on to, that we relive in our thoughts and allow to engulf us. Especially at the moment with all this extra time on our hands. But perhaps the act of forgiveness may give us some peace at this time and enable us to look after ourselves more.
We forget that the past is written and can't be changed, we also don't realise that the process of forgiveness and acceptance can give us a powerful sense of freedom.
When bad stuff happens it is so incredibly raw, and everyone always says that time heals. But it only heals completely if we are able to accept what has happened, forgive others and most importantly forgive ourselves. Sometimes we forget that we are only human, that we learn by our mistakes and we most certainly forget that our past does not define who are are right now.
Research has suggested that excusing people who have hurt us could boost our health, with experiments showing that those who let go of their anger are less likely to experience spikes in blood pressure.
Dr Saima Noreen of the University of St Andrews said: “The ability to forget upsetting memories may provide an effective coping strategy that enables people to move on with their lives.”
This I feel is the key. These memories can consume us, they can eat us up from the inside. There have been times when I have been so overcome with emotion about an incident that has happened in the past I have become withdrawn, snappy, rude and downright objectionable. I start to question my own worth and value and have even felt that my appalling behavior towards others, when in these self pitying spirals, are justified. They weren't. Not at all.
Now, slowly I am able to accept what has happened, I am able to forgive those who have done be wrong, and more importantly I am able to forgive myself. Although this is still a work in progress! What this in turn means is that I am healthier both physically and mentally.
According to a study by The Journal of Health Psychology, being a forgiving person can reduce your stress levels and boost your mental and physical health. It can improve sleep, lower cholesterol, reduce pain, anxiety and blood pressure.
The study, which looked into how stress affects your general wellbeing, found that people with a tendency to forgive were much less likely to experience bad mental health, and that forgiveness alone could greatly reduce stress levels.
The study's author, Loren Toussaint, an Associate Professor of Psychology says: 'Forgiveness takes that bad connection between stress and mental illness and makes it zero. If you don't have forgiving tendencies, you feel the raw effects of stress in an unmitigated way. You don't have a buffer against that stress.'
But if you're not naturally inclined to daily acts of forgiveness, then all is not lost. Toussaint maintains that forgiveness can be learned. So be the bigger person and forgive even your worst nemesis.
You'll feel better for it.
The Science Behind Forgiveness and How it Affects our Mental Health
On this week’s episode of the podcast, I talk about the power of forgiveness. It’s scientifically proven that forgiveness can affect our health. As mental health professionals, this has important impacts both personally and professionally. I have also included a downloadable PDF for you to give your patients to help you walk them through the act of forgiving.
Read Article & Listen to Podcast HERE
Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of feelings of anger or resentment harbored toward a person who has committed a wrong. It can often help the one who has been wronged release any negative feelings and achieve a sense of peace. A person who finds it difficult to forgive others may want to explore the benefits of forgiveness in therapy and as a result become able to forgive more easily.
Read Article HERE
7 Rules of Forgiveness
It's mostly about letting go of anger, and that's a boon for your health.It is really hard to forgive, whether it is forgiving yourself or others. We all could likely use some help learning to do it better. But what we may not be aware of is that learning to forgive is good for both our mental and physical health.
Read Article HERE