One of the most common misconceptions about forgiveness is that we should forget what happened. Forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget, it means to heal and be able to go on without resentment in our lives. Dr. Jeanette Raymond Ph.D., a psychologist in Los Angeles, CA explains, “Research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine has shown that forgiveness has multiple health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, maintaining energy levels and reducing medications for anxiety.”Forgiveness has also been found to decrease psychological distress including restlessness, hopelessness, and nervousness. “It is about disliking the hurt but seeing the perpetrator as human and about equalizing the playing field as humans rather than trying to make up for the pain by exerting power and holding onto hurt” she adds.
Once we forgive, we can remember what was hurtful and feel no pain. “If we keep in our mind the suffering, we generate a series of physical and emotional illnesses, which can lead to states of depression and likewise, create serious ailments like cancer,” Says Rommy Wi, a life coach and motivator in Miami, FL. The technique she recommends is “to stand in front of a mirror and repeat that we forgive ourselves and the person or persons who we think did us harm.”
Personal forgiveness of painful events and actions has proven to be both healthy and beneficial as a start for the restorative process. “Un-forgiveness is like an emotional prison – we lock up our negative feelings about a person and we hold onto them. It actually ties us to that person – even if the person is someone we’d rather forget.” Explained Sandy Walker, a member of the American Counseling Association.
According to Fred Luskin, Ph.D., cofounder, and director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project “Forgiveness is like a muscle: When you practice on smaller things, you gain the skill to deal with bigger ones. Learning to practice it today can make you more resilient against future hurts.” The benefits of forgiving don’t stop there, “The International Journal of Cardiology published this year a study that suggests that forgiving and treating anger is related to a healthier heart and lowers the risk of heart disease. Acknowledge the pain, recognize the responsibility and offer forgiveness. “Adds Walker. And be happier. ■