The act of forgiveness can literally take a load off your chest. So says Dr. Fred Luskin, director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. In his bestselling book, Forgive for Good, A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness, he reports that several research studies found that just the mere idea of forgiving someone allowed some people to feel better. On the other hand, if the participants in the study imagined themselves as unforgiving, they had negative reactions, such as high blood pressure. Throughout the book, he explains that people who are more forgiving report fewer symptoms of stress and health problems. Failure to forgive may be more significant than hostility as a risk factor for heart disease.
We can go a long way in promoting our general health just by choosing to forgive. Unforgiving people keep themselves in a constant state of tension by thinking often about the situation and people involved in a transgression. Such chronic tension can lead to depression and hopelessness. I know because I’ve seen it manifest in my family and several close acquaintances. Their bitterness and resentment have impacted every corner of their lives.
Why allow offenders to rent free space in our heads and control the quality of our lives by focusing on them? We can choose to avoid the stress and tension associated with reliving the hurtful situation—when we choose to forgive. Decide to disconnect that ball and chain today. Don’t worry about letting the perpetrator off the hook; you will only be disconnecting YOURSELF from the hook. You can do this. LEARN FROM THE BURN, BUT FORGIVE TO LIVE.