There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.
Chronic anger puts you into a flight-or-fight mode, which results in numerous changes. These changes then increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health, leading to improved health.
You Can Learn to Be More Forgiving.
Forgiveness in not just about saying the words. It is an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feeling whether the person deserves it or not. As you release the anger, resentment and hostility, you begin to feel empathy, compassion and sometimes even affection for the person who wronged you.
Some people are just naturally more forgiving. They tend to be more satisfied with their lives and to have less depression, anxiety, stress, anger and hostility. People who hang on to grudges, however, are more likely to experience severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder, as well as other health conditions.
But that doesn’t mean that they can’t train themselves to act in healthier ways.
Making Forgiveness Part of Your Life
Forgiveness is a choice. You are choosing to offer compassion and empathy to the person who wronged you. The following steps can help you develop a more forgiving attitude – and benefit from better emotional and physical health.
Reflect and Remember
That includes the events themselves, and also how you reacted, how you felt, and how the anger and hurt affected you since.
Empathize with the Other Person
For instance, if your spouse grew up in an alcoholic family, then anger when you have too many glasses of wine might be more understandable.
Simply forgiving someone because you think you have no other aternative or because you think your religion requires it may be enough to bring some healing. A study found that people whose forgiveness came in part from understanding that no one is perfect were able to resume a normal relationship with the other person, even if that person never apologized. Those who only forgave in an effort to salvage the relationship wound up with a worse relationship.
Let Go of Expectations
An apology may not change your relationship with the other person or elicit an apology from them. If you don’t expect either, you won’t be disappointed.
Decide to Forgive
Once you make that choice, seal it with an action. If you don’t feel you can talk to the person who wronged you, write your forgiveness in a journal or even talk about it to someone else in your life whom you trust.
The act of forgiving includes forgiving yourself. For example, if your spouse had an affair, recognize that the affair is not a reflection of your worth.