If you’ve been holding in a lot of anger after someone hurt you, you might be hurting yourself even more. Stress caused by being mad at someone or holding a grudge can have an effect on physical health. One way to alleviate those symptoms is to practice forgiveness. This Monday, resolve to relieve yourself of a stressful burden and learn to forgive.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the physical effects of stress on the body may include high blood pressure, a disruption of sleep, and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. It may also cause depression and anxiety, especially the longer resentment is held in or ignored. Compare those negative feelings to a kettle full of boiling water, getting hotter and bubbling up until the pressure makes it scream. Such a volatile buildup of pressure in your own body can only feel bad – but practicing forgiveness will help you release that pressure and move on to better things.
If you’re thinking that the last thing you want to do is forgive someone who hurt you, this is completely normal. Forgiveness is one of most difficult and complicated acts people do. Dr. Rick Hanson writes that one reason forgiveness is so hard is the feeling that you might be accepting or excusing the wrongdoing or bad behavior that made you angry in the first place. But just because “forgive and forget” is a popular expression doesn’t mean you can or will forget. You can, however, choose to stop being angry with someone.
Another reason forgiveness is so hard is because many perceive it to be a sign of weakness, “rolling over” when someone hurts you and letting them get away with it. In fact, forgiveness will give you the power over the person you’re forgiving. It doesn’t matter what the other person wants, thinks, or does – you have decided to be at peace and stop allowing these feelings to bother you. Forgiveness may even free up your energy to focus on more positive things:
“A University of Pisa study found that participants who contemplated forgiveness exhibited activation in five brain regions, indicating an increase in positive emotions, cognitive morality, understanding of the mental states of others, perception, and cognitive control of emotions.” [Greater Good Magazine]
This Monday, make the choice to ease the stress that another person has caused you and practice forgiveness.