Something that startles me no end is to hear people talk about old hurts, insults and old humiliations, and know that forgiveness has not taken place. And as I listen to bitter, shrill voice expounding on such old incidents, I want to shake them and say, “It’s you who are killing yourself carrying your bitterness on!” And more than that, “You kill present day relationships, because nobody knows when dormant volcano within you, will erupt and intrude into everyday situations!”
Dr Frank Boehm learned long ago that not everything that happens to our body is assigned to medical facts. “My father who escaped the Holocaust believed that anger, resentment and unforgiveness, bred disease of the soul, as well as the body. Forgiveness is good medicine he told me.”
Some years ago a patient came to see Dr Boehm about her constant neck pain, headaches and high blood pressure. But he couldn’t find a medical cause for her ailments. “Tell me about your life,” he then said. She told him she was in conflict with her two sisters because they had forsaken her in her time of need earlier. Recalling his father’s words, the doctor encouraged her to forgive her sisters. Years later Boehm received a letter from his patient. She had made peace with her sisters and sure enough her physical ailments had abated. “She found forgiveness and from this good health,” said Boehm.
“When you are treated unjustly by another, anger is a natural response,” says Robert Enright, professor of educational psychology and author of ‘Forgiveness is a Choice’. “But if these resentful feelings are not resolved, a grudge will form: Victims, may want to hold a grudge because it gives them a regained sense of control and superiority. However when nursing a grudge you’re essentially stuck in the victim role and are inviting anger to become a companion in your everyday life and a toxin to your body..!”
Says Dr Redford Williams, author of ‘Anger Kills’, “If you don’t forgive, resentment can erupt at any time and the cost to your body is ongoing. It’s like taking small doses of poison daily!”
Forgiveness is not denying you’re angry or pretending the injury didn’t happen. Forgiveness is to reframe how one feels about the offense and those seen as responsible. It is moving from continually replaying your personal grievance story to revising it so that you are no more a victim of your past.
Start small by learning how to forgive minor slights. If you arrive home and trip on your son’s bicycle in the verandah or driveway, recognize that he isn’t out to get you, and forgive him.
“By changing your thinking you can decide whether your anger is appropriate,” says Williams, “and over time you will be able to forgive tougher injuries.”
“One forgiving act is the beginning,” says Enright, “as you continue offering forgiveness, your identity will no longer be that of a victim but of one who is powerful in the face of adversity!”
Want to be healthy? Swallow a dose of forgiveness..!