The Benefits of Forgiveness
Forgiving is good for your mental health. But it is also good for your physical health.
Sometimes the people around us do things that hurt us or make us feel betrayed or even attacked. Other times it is us who does something that we don’t agree with later. It isn’t always easy to forgive, but doing so is really healthy. Even if it’s just out of self-interest, we should learn to do it.
The act of forgiving is much easier said than done and in general poses a great challenge. Sometimes forgiveness can be confused with a sort of reprieve in which what happened is accepted without any kind of payback, but forgiveness is much more than that. Forgiving implies breaking away from what happened.
Whatever the case may be, forgiveness has many benefits for our bodies’ health.
Forgiveness is good for the heart
Forgiveness is beneficial to our heart’s health. A study by the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that forgiveness is associated with a decreased heart rate and lower blood pressure. This same study discovered that forgiving also helps to alleviate stress.
This can bring benefits for the health of your heart in particular as well as your health in general.
Forgiveness is good for general, physical, and mental health
A later study has found a relationship between forgiveness and five measurements of health: physical symptoms, medicines used, quality of sleep, fatigue, and physical complaints. It seems that reducing the negative effects and depressive symptoms that are produced by resentment strengthens spirituality, conflict management, and stress relief, which means that the impact of forgiveness has a significant effect on health in general.
Forgiveness helps form better relationships with others
Another study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that forgiving helps restore positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors towards the offending party. That is to say that forgiveness restores the relationship to its last positive state. Additionally, the benefits of forgiveness can extend to positive behaviors towards other people outside the relationship. In this way, forgiveness is associated with more volunteer work, more donations and acts of charity, and other altruistic behaviors.
When we forgive, we are freeing ourselves from ourselves, from our own slavery. We break away from the pain and resentment that we had been carrying like a boulder on our backs, giving way to freedom. By forgiving, we even give closure to that open part of the past that we were holding onto.
Forgiving implies an acceptance of what happened, yielding to a profound release, not only from the actions of or accusations made by others, but also from ourselves, because we must not only forgive others; it is also important to think about the things that we must forgive ourselves for.
Forgiving is good for the body, for the mind, for personal relationships, and for finding our role in the world. This should serve to convince us that it is much better to let go of the resentment and to forgive.
As William Shakespeare said:
“The quality of mercy is not strain’d; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”