THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

We’ve all been hurt or betrayed. If we were lucky, we were able to reach some sort of understanding and resolution with the person who hurt us. If not, we may be holding on to grudges which, according to a new study from the Mayo Clinic, could be damaging more that just our emotions. 

Carrying around past resentments is now known to have a detrimental effect upon both the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Participants who were told to focus on a personal grudge experienced elevated blood pressure, increased heart rates, muscle tension and feelings of loss of control. When these same participants were led to visualize forgiving the person who had hurt them, these negative effects were alleviated. 

It’s important to realize that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re excusing the person who harmed you or condoning their behavior. It does mean acknowledging that you were hurt and then releasing the burden of anger and resentment that you have been carrying around. There is no right or wrong way to do this – meditation, talking with a friend or seeking the help of a counselor – use whichever methods are most comfortable for you. 

Below are four steps listed in the Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource which can help you along the way:

 — Acknowledge the pain and anger felt as a result of someone else’s actions. For forgiveness to occur, the situation needs to be looked at honestly.
— Recognize that healing requires change.

— Find a new way to think about the person who caused the pain. What was happening in that person’s life when the hurt occurred? Sometimes, the motivation or causes for the incident have little to do with those most affected. For some people, this step includes saying, “I forgive you.”

— Begin to experience the emotional relief that comes with forgiveness. It may include increased compassion for others who have experienced similar hurt.
 

Having just begun a new year, now may just be the perfect time to let go of your past hurts and move forward through 2008 with clearer emotions and a healthier body. 

Happy New Year!

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