By Ivan Baguma
Thank you for following my sequel of articles. I am grateful for the feedback from those of you who acted upon my last article and as a result put a smile on your loved ones’ faces as well as yours.
Today, we are going to talk about forgiveness and how it can heal you. I hope that after you read this piece, you shall forgive, let go and receive healing. Now is the best time to let go of any resentments and all forms of negativity, to build up one another in love and unity.
Forgiveness is a cognitive and emotional process that eradicates chronic hostility, rumination, and their adverse effects (Worthington et al., 2007).
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group that has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
While it is prudent to forgive others, it is even more important to forgive yourself. Therefore, stop blaming yourself and be kinder to yourself. Forgiveness is for our own growth and happiness.
Do you want to bring happiness and health into every relationship and new experience? Do you desire to be so wrapped up in the good, that you enjoy the present? To realize that life has meaning or purpose to the extent that you feel oneness with your spiritual beliefs?
“A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones”, – King Solomon (Proverbs 17:22).
Forgiveness is like that “magic” drug which makes healthier relationships, improves mental health, lessens stress and hostility. It also lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, improves heart’s health, betters sleep and betters self-esteem.
Research has shown links between forgiveness and mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression and major psychiatric disorders, as well as with fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates. Psychologically, when people reported higher levels of forgiveness, they also tended to report better health habits like better sleep and decreased depression, anxiety, and anger levels.
Contrary to popular belief, when you forgive you actually let yourself off the hook, not the offender. When we hold on to hurt, pain, resentment, and anger, it harms us far more than it does the offender. There are numerous researches that have been carried out which show that “unforgiveness” causes health issues.
For example, when we get angry, the brain prompts the body to release stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline. The testosterone levels likewise increase, however, the cortisol levels drop. The latter result, a constant flood of stress chemicals and associated metabolic changes like fluctuations in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response can eventually cause harm to many different systems of the body.
This also rises the risk of depression, autoimmune diseases, acceleration of cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Some of the other linked health challenges will include: headache, digestion difficulties, such as abdominal pain, insomnia, increased anxiety, and skin problems, such as eczema.
Unfortunately, that’s not all. Unforgiveness not only increases risks for health problems but serious social problems as well. It can result in loss of employment, loss of one’s family in the long or short run, even imprisonment. Universally, in life, everyone goes through hurtful events incited by significant others: a deceiving friend, a betraying partner, or an unjustly blaming parent. In response to painful emotions, individuals may react with anger, hostility, and the desire for revenge. As an alternative, they may decide to forgive the wrongdoer and relinquish resentment.
If you don’t learn to forgive, you may have a hard time trying to succeed since you carry the offense as an unnecessary burden that weighs down on you emotionally or even mentally. The remedy is that forgiveness clears the mind and allows you to see things and opportunities that were clouded by the haze of all the emotional tension you held.
If you are struggling to forgive, remember that we all have made mistakes and would also like to be forgiven. Don’t you also deserve forgiveness?
Celebrate every “small” victory on this path. How about we talk about laughter in the next article?
The Writer is a Nutritionist at Wellcare/ Dr. Kasenene Wellness