Vitamins have the capacity of enhancing our health so we can function optimally. But we need more than traditional vitamins to be at our best, so let’s look at another ingredient that affects our health. I’ve taken the liberty to call forgiveness vitamin F because it directly influences our well-being.
From personal experience I can verify the difference forgiveness makes. A while back while on a personal silent retreat, I awoke in the middle of the night and began remembering hurts from my past. I thought I had dealt with them, but I obviously needed to look at them again. Looking at them one more time, I realized every person involved had done what they had done out of ignorance, not intention. They just didn’t know how to handle life differently. How could I fault them for that? Given their circumstances I might have behaved the same way. I fully released every incident and felt like a great weight had been lifted. The relief was tremendous and the result was my feeling light, free, and joyful.
Forgiveness is not about ignoring painful memories or excusing hurtful behavior. Psychology Today describes forgiveness as “freeing ourselves from feelings of anger, resentment, and victimization, and ending with clarity about our values.” It’s about having compassion and empathy for the person that caused the hurt, as well as for ourselves. Oprah describes forgiveness as, “Letting go of the belief that the past could have been any different.”
The process of forgiving and letting go is a catalyst for greater emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. As individuals get healthier they affect their families, families affect communities, and communities affect the world, so this vitamin is powerful. Not forgiving has its costs because kept grievances result in ongoing anger, anxiety, frustration, and depression, and can fuel insomnia, addiction, and despair. Is this how we really want to live? There is a better alternative.
In the book “Forgive and Be Free,” Ana Holub shares medical research on forgiveness. She reiterates that anger and bitterness result in long-term health problems, while forgiveness offers numerous benefits. Here are a few of the health benefits of forgiveness from her book.
When we let go of anger from past grievances, our body responds with an even heart rate and lowered blood pressure. If we choose forgiveness instead of recycling anxious thoughts, we reduce our stress. We can also offer our concerns to our Higher Power, which reduces stress even further.
Forgiveness reduces sudden, hostile behaviors like road rage or the urge to fight. When we let go of anger and bitterness, we have more self-control, which gives us better anger-management skills. Better anger management leads to a relaxed heart with a lower heart rate.
Often substance abuse masks underlying emotional pain. Forgiveness releases the pain and enables the forgiver to refocus on the gifts in the situation. Forgiveness can lessen depression symptoms by leading the way to healing and compassion. When we learn to forgive others and ourselves, we have fewer anxiety symptoms and are able to love ourselves more fully.
Sometimes pain has a psychological cause, and the shift that happens with forgiveness can help relieve physical pain. When we stop holding grudges we are open to becoming closer to friends and family. That change also makes room for new relationships, and the relationships we create are healthier because there is less drama.
Forgiveness brings us closer to Spirit which again enhances our well-being. When we offer up our fear, sadness, and pain, we receive peace, love, and healing. This gives us improved psychological well-being so we feel calmer, happier, and able to live more harmoniously. With vitamin F we lower our cortisol and boost our immune system so we can enjoy being more relaxed and centered, which means we won’t get ill as easily. And if we are ill, we can help our recovery.
Forgiveness is a choice we need to make daily. It uplifts our vibrational field and breaks patterns of fear. We forgive when we’re ready and not a moment before, so let’s go within and ask ourselves if we’re ready to exchange our grievances for freedom and peace. When we give ourselves a regular dose of vitamin F, we improve our own health and the well-being of those around us. It’s a powerful vitamin full of blessings and rewards. Robert Muller puts it this way: “To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” This is a vitamin worth taking!
Until Next Time – Sylvia