In the Mood Lifters Program, we discuss Forgiveness as a way to help us repair social relationships. We also discuss forgiveness in order to “get ourselves off the hook”. There is a common misconception that forgiveness is for letting the person who hurt you off the hook, but it actually benefits you the most. When you don’t forgive someone for times where they may have hurt you, it can cause you to carry the emotions, thoughts, and stress around with you.
Research has shown that practicing forgiveness is connected to reduced anxiety and depression, as well as fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates. Forgiveness also helps to reduce what Bob Enright, PhD, calls “toxic anger”. As we talk about in emotion meetings, negative emotions have a purpose and our goal is to reduce how long and how deeply we feel them so they don’t become long term moods. Anger is a healthy emotion to feel when someone has wronged us, but when the anger is very deep and long lasting it can become detrimental to our health. Reducing anger has been shown to help you relax your muscles, give you more energy, and help to strengthen your immune system. Forgiveness has been shown to help reduce the toxic kind of anger that can harm your health.
Interested in more information about the research behind the benefits of forgiveness? The American Psychological Association has a brief article about why forgiveness is so important and more information about it’s benefits, as shown through research. You can click the link below to read more about the research behind forgiveness.
apa.org: Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health – Research shows how to get there
Have you tried practicing forgiveness? How has it helped you? Let us know in the comments below.