The more I learn about forgiveness, the more I realize what a powerful tool it is to help people move forward in all aspects of their lives. I know in my own life, I spent my early years thinking about the reasons I did not need to forgive the people who had hurt me. I believed that withholding forgiveness somehow protected me from being hurt again. What I didn’t realize was that unforgiveness actually kept me glued to that person.
Costs of Unforgiveness
Sometimes…I wasn’t actually sure what true forgiveness looked like or how to begin the process. I didn’t realize what it was costing me.
Scripture has a lot to say about forgiveness. It tells me that if I forgive others, my heavenly Father will forgive me (Mt 6:14). This is good news! But what it doesn’t say is that forgiveness is good for us in other ways too.
Health Benefits of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is actually good for the heart—literally. Studies show that people who hold on to grudges tend to have higher heart rates, while those who are more empathetic and able to forgive tend to have lower heart rates.
Research shows forgiveness can reduce physical pain. Out of 61 subjects who suffered from chronic back pain, those who were more likely to forgive reported lower levels of pain, leading researchers from Duke University Medical Center researchers to conclude that “a relationship appears to exist between forgiveness and important aspects of living with persistent pain.”
Forgiveness can lower stress levels. According to one study done by Hope College, one of the benefits of forgiveness is lower amounts of cortisol— the hormone we release when stressed. Researchers examined participants and their physical responses when they spoke about grudges as opposed to when they spoke about forgiveness and empathy. Those who exhibited more forgiving perspectives had lower physiological stress responses.
According to mayoclinic.org studies show that forgiveness is linked to lower blood pressure. longer life, decreased rates of depression, stronger immune system and a higher self-esteem.
Forgiveness is good for the Spirit, the soul AND the body. When we are healthier, our relationships are healthier and the fruit of our lives is healthier. I shared some thoughts about forgiveness and some tools to help the process on our new YouTube channel. Check it out here.
Coach Sue has been privileged to coach and teach in a variety of settings: one on one, couples, families, focus groups, and conferences. In her years as a coach, Sue has been told she is naturally gifted at partnering with people who want to grow, whether personally, relationally, professionally, or spiritually. Her warmth, acceptance, and authenticity allows you to relax and be yourself. Her discerning direction and non-judgmental support will help you uncover pitfalls or roadblocks from your past or present while inspiring new goals and pathways for the future. You can learn more about her here.