“Multiple long-term studies on forgiveness and human physiology reveal: forgiving is not only good for our health, its essential to our holistic self-care”, said Harmony Curtiss, Director for Healing Hands School of Holistic Health – Laguna Hills. “Forgiveness is defined as: a process in which one consciously decides to let go of feelings of anger, revenge and/or resentment towards someone . Forgiving does not mean you condone the behavior, or forget that the offense occurred. It simply means that you let go negative thoughts and emotions, so they no longer affect your emotional and physical state”, she added.
To truly forgive another, Psychologists suggest replacing negative thoughts and feelings about the offense or motivation of the offender with more positive thoughts and feelings. Thoughts evoke feelings, and feelings release neuro-chemicals in the brain. Good thoughts and feelings evoke happy brain chemistry (Serotonin and Endorphins) which contribute to good health. Negative feelings evoke stressful brain chemistry (Cortisol) which negatively impacts one’s physical and emotional health. Holding on to and re-living negative events and their associated feelings, contributes to higher stress levels, hostility, and chronic anxiety which negatively impacts one’s heart, circulatory and immune systems.
In one ground-breaking study, Psychologist, Loren Toussaint and colleagues at Luther College showed that individuals who would only forgive others on conditional terms, died earlier than those who forgave unconditionally. The study found that individuals who made conditional demands for forgiveness continued to experience negative feelings such as resentment, anger, victimization, or anxiety caused by expecting an apology that may never come.
Fortunately, the same study also showed that individuals who forgave their wrong-doer without the need for an apology began the emotional healing process earlier and were better able to move forward with their lives. These ‘forgiving’ individuals experienced emotional benefits of higher self-esteem, renewed hope, and feelings of empowerment. The increased psychological and Spiritual well-being also led to healthier relationships in general.
Another medical study on forgiveness done at East Carolina University showed physical health benefits such as: lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, lower levels of “LDL” and “HDL” cholesterol, and lower levels of perceived anxiety, stress, and depression. The decreased stress reactions also facilitated a better night’s sleep. In contrast, they found that holding on to a grudge or resentment led to insomnia, hypertension and other chronic stress related issues including Coronary Heart Disease.
The moral to this story – holding a grudge can literally make you sick! So, give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Let go of any anger and resentment you’re holding and know that your reward will be a healthier more empowered you with a greater sense of peace and well-being ensuring a longer, more enjoyable life experience.
Healing Hands School of Holistic Health has been serving residents in SoCal for over 26 years. With more than 80 Massage and Holistic Health courses plus two Certification Programs to offer, we’re considered a trail-blazer for Holistic Health education in Southern California. To date, we’ve prepared more than 7,000 students for rewarding careers in Massage Therapy and can do the same for you. To find out more visit us on-line at www.HealingHandsSchool.com or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills, or (760) 746-9364 in Escondido, or (858) 505-1100 in San Diego.
The Journal of Behavioral Medicine – www.sbm.org › Publications
Journal of Bio-behavioral Sciences – Benefits of Forgiveness
University of California at San Diego – www.ucsd.edu/learn/research/
New York University- www.nyu.edu/