Sometimes in life someone does something that we may feel is unforgivable. We get hurt, angry, resentful, and at times it can be all consuming. More and more though it is being found that these feelings negatively impact our health:
“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”
Forgiving can be a real challenge and it is important to remember that when we forgive someone we are not excusing the act but instead are releasing ourselves from it. In other words, we do this for us not for the other person. One thing I want to mention is that time is a healer. It may be too much to attempt forgiveness until some time has passed. Allow yourself to feel all your feelings related to the incident and act accordingly. If you are angry express it, if you are upset shed your tears, give yourself permission to go through it all.
One thing I have suggested to my clients is to write the person who wronged them a letter. Put everything in that letter that they are feeling and use whatever language makes the most sense to them. Once it’s done set it aside. After a length of time that is appropriate for them I tell them to read it. Should you send it? Should the language be toned down? How do you feel now? Based on the answers to those questions they determine if it should be sent. Sometimes if it is too strong I suggest creating a ceremony where the letter is burned allowing all their anger literally go up in smoke.
Here are a few suggestions that may assist in forgiveness:
- Decide that you want to forgive. A positive first step.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Is there anything that you can think of that may have contributed to the way this person acted? Not justifying it but understanding it
- Speak your truth about the situation. Talk to someone you can trust and who’s advice you respect. Get another viewpoint.
As you forgive take a look at the relationship. It may be that you can forgive and not have this person in your life any more. If that is not possible or practical being honest with yourself is key. Are you expecting an apology? If you don’t see one coming than accept that and realize this has more to do with them than you. Freedom is key here and to get your wings, forgive and fly!
On Tuesday, March 14th, 7:00 PM Forgiveness will be the topic on The Night Shift. I invite you to join me.