The Benefits Of Forgiveness
Many medical and psychological studies through the years have shown that forgiving others is of even greater benefit to you than it is to the person you are forgiving. Holding onto grudges and bitterness has many negative repercussions on both physical health and emotional well-being, so here are just a few of the many benefits you will receive if you can learn to forgive: [i]
Lower blood pressure
Anxiety or anger because of past grievances can cause our heart rate to accelerate and become uneven, and raise our blood pressure. So, releasing those feelings will help to bring our heart rate back into a more normal rhythm and drop blood pressure.
Less risk of substance abuse and depression
Alcohol or drug abuse can often be a mask for underlying pain, stemming from unforgiveness in our hearts. Similarly, this pain can lead to debilitating depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Learning to let go of those feelings helps us release that pain and lessens the temptations to find relief by numbing the pain through external substances or self-harm.
Less hostility and anger
As we cling to the emotional burdens of unforgiveness, we are more easily overcome by anger and have less self-control. We are more prone to spontaneous hostile behavior, like road rage and picking a fight for no reason. By forgiving and releasing those burdens, we’ll find it easier to take a deep breath, count to ten, or employ other methods that allow us to stay in control of our emotions rather than losing our tempers so easily.
Less stress and fewer anxiety symptoms
Forgiveness lessens stress because we stop recycling negative thoughts and emotions. When we don’t forgive, we also feel guilty, causing fear and anxiety to increase. All of this stress causes the release of cortisol in our bodies, which is known to suppress the immune system, cause weight gain, gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular disease. [ii] Choosing to forgive frees us from replaying the negative and takes away our burden of guilt, reducing levels of stress and anxiety and all their negative repercussions.
Reduction in chronic pain
There can often be an underlying psychological cause to physical pain. By letting go of unforgiveness and bitter feelings, we can often heal ourselves on the physical level as well as the psychological.
We tend to “let more people in,” growing closer to friends and family, when we aren’t holding onto grudges. Old relationships can grow stronger and new ones can form, simply because we made room for them with forgiveness. In addition, we’ll also start to notice less drama in our lives – much of it self-inflicted – making relationships more peaceful and enjoyable for us and the other people in our lives.
Improved spiritual and psychological health
When we ask God for help forgiving others, and turn over our negative feelings to him, He offers peace and love in return, providing restoration with Him and those we are forgiving, bringing true spiritual healing. We’ll also find that life becomes more peaceful on all levels. We’ll have fewer nightmares, feel rested and find a more positive outlook on life. We’ll feel calmer, happier and more compassionate toward others.