One of the biggest obstacles towards optimum health that I encounter in the clinic is an inability to let go. Often, that thing we hold on to is resentment or bitterness. I’m not entirely sure why we do this. I think perhaps we feel satisfied by it. Like somehow we are balancing out the wrong that happened to us. Yet that thought couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a famous quote that says, “Unforgiveness is a poison that you drink and wait for the other person to die.” I think that is a very accurate metaphor, but from a biochemical standpoint it could also be taken quite literally. Feelings of hatred, anger, bitterness, judgement, and resentment can all trigger our stress physiology. Over time the chemicals we secrete from these feelings can literally act like a low potency poison, which can eventually lead to serious illnesses and disease. This why my patients receive forgiveness homework that I would like to share with you today.
How to forgive and let go
Identify a situation, action, or person you feel needs to be forgiven – an experience from the past, which comes to your mind often. Recall your feelings, thoughts, and emotions on the subject.
Having identified and thought about a person, action or situation, you are now ready to begin the steps of forgiveness. It is important to note you don’t have to agree with the actions of the other person or the event in order to forgive. You are forgiving for your own sake, not someone else’s. Until you forgive the past, this other person or event is controlling your life. This is true even if the other person is no longer alive.
5 STEPS of FORGIVENESS – carried out with feeling and emotion
- Forgive yourself – you must first forgive yourself for allowing the event to affect your health
- Forgive the other person – forgive the other person for any harm he or she may have caused you.
- Give the other person permission to forgive you – maybe you did something you weren’t aware you did. It is not recommended that the other person knows you are taking this step. You are doing this for you!
- See the good in the situation – Learn the lesson the situation taught you.
- Be thankful! – be thankful for the experience and the lesson it taught you and wish everyone well.