In January we launched a series on 12 habits of highly healthy people. This month the focus is on forgiveness.
Forgiveness involves letting go of grudges, bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness requires personal reflection and a willingness to dial back on negativity.
Why practice forgiveness? Forgiveness has been shown to help:
- Reduce stress, anxiety and hostility
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Lead to improved relationships
- Lower risk of substance abuse
- Lessen depression and chronic pain
- Enhance spiritual and psychological well-being
Forgiveness is not easy. To begin this process of change, consider exploring these opportunities:
- Take a step back. Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you reacted, and how this has affected your health and well-being.
- Move past the victim role. Holding onto grievances gives the offending person or situation control and power over your life. Remember you can forgive someone without excusing their actions.
- First forgive yourself. If you notice you're giving yourself a hefty dose of negative self-talk, think about how you can forgive yourself in the moment so that the negativity doesn't color your choices and actions.
Consider this example. You're working on weight loss and you don't follow your healthy eating plan at dinner. As a result, you feel angry and disappointed in yourself. How could you shift your perspective and practice self-forgiveness to stop the downward spiral that will likely lead to other poor choices?
Forgiveness is a choice. A choice that you make for yourself — to help with anger, frustration and letting go. If you're struggling to make this change on your own, seek the guidance of a trusted health professional, church or faith-based leader, or employee or community-based assistance programs.
Feb. 27, 2014