Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. have all spoken to the power of forgiveness. It’s a prominent principle taught by psychiatrists and spiritual leaders alike. But when you are in the throes of a complicated relationship, you may find yourself wondering if forgiveness is really worth it.
Though it’s not always easy, forgiving someone will not only be good for your soul, but also for your health. WebMD reports that letting go of resentment can lower your blood pressure and help you build a stronger immune system. Forgiving instead of holding a grudge can heal the pain in your heart as well back and stomach pain, headaches, and depression.
Like the saying, “forgive and forget,” there are two ways of letting go of resentment. Dr. Everett L. Worthington Jr., author of Forgiveness and Reconciliation, describes them as: decisional and emotional. The decisional type means choosing to forget and “let go of angry thoughts,” but a person may still harbor negative feelings. The second type, emotional forgiveness, is when a person truly at peace with which is the healthiest option.
Many people choose decisional forgiveness because the other person has not apologized or because they feel that by holding onto bitterness they are somehow punishing the other person. During this season of giving, why not take the first step and give the gift of true emotional forgiveness? It could do wonders for a strained relationship and it’s a gift that can benefit your health.
Not sure how to start? To reach a state of forgiveness, the Mayo Clinic says that we have to be committed to change. In order to forgive we must realize that there is more to the person than the hurt they caused us. We have to “move away from your role as the victim” and instead reflect on the facts of situation. When we relinquish our anger we can regain power over our lives and move forward happier and healthier.