Today we live in a world that has an epidemic of unforgiveness. As many as 55% of the people I spoke with over two years had someone they had not forgiven, and many were quick to say they never planned on forgiving them. Why do you think it is so hard to forgive?
There are quite a few different reasons people don’t forgive and one of the first ones is because they do not want to let the person off the hook. Forgiving the person does not change their accountability for their actions. Some people feel like there is no reason to forgive because they have nothing to gain. We will see in the new scientific research that we have a lot to gain. Others state they do not forgive if the person does not apologize. Some people will not forgive because they feel the crime, the person committed was too horrific and they do not deserve to be forgiven. This would be a situation where someone murders a person, or a child is abused physically or mentally.
Here are a few questions for you to think about. What are your feelings on forgiving? Do you forgive everyone? What if you found out there was a benefit for you if you forgave someone? Would that change how you feel?? Hold on to your answer.
When you think about forgiveness what do you associate it with? If you said religion, you in with the majority of the group. People that are not even affiliated with religion will say they associate forgiveness with religion. For several thousands of years that is all, we have ever known.
Due to scientific research that began thirty years, we know that forgiveness is not just practiced by the religious people now. Scientists have determined that there are benefits for the forgiving person. This was a very important discovery.
The scientist might have begun their research thirty years ago, but not many people were aware of it until the late 20th century. The information is continuing to become available, but it is at a snail’s pace. Through the research, scientists were able to determine there is a relationship between our minds and our bodies. When we go through a traumatic event it often causes us to feel hurt, angry, and bitter emotionally. Have you thought about how it affects your body? Most of the time you will notice an increase in your heart rate as well as your breathing. If the event goes on for too long you may begin to get a headache or feel sick on your stomach. These are all signs that show there is a connection between our mind and our body.
Also, the scientists determined that there is a connection between forgiveness and your physical and mental health. In several studies, those who forgave saw a decrease in their blood pressure and cholesterol including a reduction in anxiety and depression. Forgiveness studies on patients with cancer and heart problems showed significant improvements too. The research has determined that the recipients are not the only ones who reap the benefits of forgiveness. Forgiveness is for you and it may help the recipient.
“Forgiveness is a virtue embraced by almost every religious tradition as a balm for the soul — might be medicine for the body, researchers suggest.”
—Dr. Robert Enright