Forgiveness has many benefits

Practicing forgiveness can help reduce stress.

Forgiveness is powerful. It is not being a pushover. It is not forgetting. It may not always mean reconciliation and does not mean never getting angry. Corrie ten Boom, who’d been in a concentration camp, forgave her guards and in her book said, “When you forgive someone, the prisoner you free is yourself.”

It is a choice. Forgiveness allows us to stop looking back, be more centered in the present and have hope for the future. Michigan State University Extension includes a session on forgiveness within the RELAX: Alternatives to Anger course because of the emotional and physical benefits of forgiving. Practicing forgiveness allows us to focus on the present by letting go of the past and starting fresh. We are then able to experience anger and react in constructive rather than destructive ways. Recently in a class held in Gaylord a participant shared, “ I lost 90 pounds and avoided back surgery by working with a counselor/therapist to forgive my parents for my childhood.” 

People who are practicing forgiveness identified the following:

  • Fewer health problems
  • Less stress
  • Have fewer physical symptoms of stress

Buddha said, “Holding onto your anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.” After criminal and civil cases, and 10 years of time another program participant was was able to forgive the drunk driver that caused the accident which landed her and her children in the hospital for 31 days. She said, “I had to forgive him for me. It was eating me from the inside out.”

People who are not practicing forgiveness may experience one or more of the following:

  • Experience tight muscles.
  • Have a restricted blood flow.
  • Take longer to recover from injury or surgery.
  • Experience chronic pain.
  • Have digestive issues.
  • Be more susceptible to infection and illness due to a suppressed immune system.

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