Forgiveness and Health

Forgiveness can be an important piece in the process for chronic symptom recovery. Forgiveness is first about releasing and expressing and offloading our anger and resentment. Holding onto anger creates internal stress in our systems as it keeps the ‘fight’ sympathetic branch of our nervous system activated. Holding onto resentment is like taking a poison and hoping the other person will die.

The goal in forgiveness is to move out of anger and into reappraising and reframing what happened to us and seeing the offender and ourselves from a different more compassionate perspective. It’s a process that takes time but is worthwhile to pursue if you have been a victim of abuse, neglect, or have been bullied or attacked unjustly by others in your life.

Forgiveness has been shown to be associated with better mental, emotional, and physical health. This Johns Hopkins article titled: ‘Forgiveness your health depends on it’ explains this a little more. Another article from Harvard ‘The Power of Forgiveness’ talks about the positive effects of forgiveness.

This 2020 research review article on chronic pain found in their conclusion that: ‘There is an association between the capacity to forgive and the experience of chronic pain.’ Another 2019 review on forgiveness and psychological and physical health found that: ‘We found a reliable overall association between forgiveness and health outcomes. The association was stronger for psychological health than for physical health, though associations with cardiovascular health indicators (i.e. heart-rate and blood pressure) were robust.’