Forgiveness and Stress
This post was original published at PINOYatbp.
Last Christmas, I heard someone say, “I still can’t forgive him for what he did to her. He is the reason she died of lung cancer. If he didn’t smoke in the house, she would still be here with us.”
I wanted to jump in and tell the unforgiving person about the Forgiveness course I had taken when I was preparing my youngest son for his First Reconciliation just the previous few weeks. But I thought, who am I to preach about forgiveness? I myself had been having a hard time forgiving somebody who repeatedly hurts me (emotionally). Besides, this unforgiving person is more pious than me and I was not in the mood for one of his religious debates.
There is a saying that goes, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” It’s easier said than done. Forgiving can be a very hard thing to do.
I know, and you all probably do, that forgiving is good not just for the soul, but also for the body.
I read in The Herald, our community newspaper, an article written by Dr. Bruce Naherniak, a chiropractor here in Winnipeg.
“Holding a grudge towards others puts your body into a ‘stress response,’ according to research out of Hope College in Michigan. When people remember past slights…
-their blood pressure increases
-their heart rate increases
-their muscle tensions are higher
Other research has found that stress hormones increase when we can’t forgive and forget. The result is a weaker immune system and possibly impaired neurological function and poor memory.”
He cited that studies have shown that unforgiving people:
-are more likely to develop a health problem
-suffer from increased anxiety symptoms
-suffer from increased paranoia
-suffer increased incidence of heart disease
-have less resistance to physical illness
But how do we forgive someone?
Dr. Naherniak interviewed Fr. Andrew Jarmus from Holy Cross Orthodox Mission for his advice on forgiveness.
1.First, be ready to hurt in order to heal. Sometimes we have trouble forgiving because we are avoiding the negative feelings surrounding the incident.
2.Let go of your right to revenge. You can never make the other person feel exactly like you feel. Getting your ‘pound of flesh’ only prolongs the ill feelings and poisons everyone involved.
3.Remind yourself that they are only human and we make mistakes.
4.An important step is to really wish the person well. We may never have the same relationship with that person again, but we must still wish only the best for them.
Just like shampooing your hair, repeat as necessary.
Forgiveness is a journey. Occasionally the hurt and anger will rise again. At these times, we must repeat the first four steps. The negative feelings may come back but not as intense. Eventually, we will look at the incident with peace of mind and heart.”
I am still on this journey. I wish I could forgive and forget just like that. But it’s tough. I know I should. The stress is taking a toll on my body. Earlier last year, I went to the doctor because of a slight tightening in my chest. My doctor checked me and gave me a clean bill of health. I knew then that I was just stressed out.
I did some researching on my own and I’ve discovered that stress can also cause lower back pains (I’ve had quite a few of this), poor memory (check) and crankiness which is often noticed by other persons before you do (check).
On a recent visit to the dentist for my regular check up, he told me that I am wearing my teeth down – sign of teeth grinding, which is another symptom of stress. Hence, I have to wear a night guard.
I should really start to chill out. I have found out a few tips on how to cope with stress.
1.Take a deep breath.
2.Learn to relax.
3.Make time for yourself.
4.Do something you enjoy – listening to music, reading, painting, drawing, gardening.
7.Have sex. (wink)
I’ll try to do these as I go on this long journey.
These are the 2 comments from “Forgiveness and Stress” that was published at pinoyatbp.
Duke said on January 24th, 2006 at 8:38 am
I believe that when you forgive and forget, you do yourself the biggest favor. The thing is, it’s not that easy and it does take a toll on your healthi n the long run.
I like your tips! Number seven is the best release (hihihihi)
Patrice said on January 26th, 2006 at 8:36 pm
This is true what you said. Ika nga di ba, a healthy mind (and heart) is equal to a healthy body. Hypothetical but true in some ways. Even if you are physically fit but under a lot of stress, wala pa rin.
In my case, I try to keep in mind what I consider petty offenses and those that I consider major. Unless it involves my family, I try to let it go. No use trying to ponder on petty stuff di ba? Keeping a good disposition and beiing nice to people would help avoid circumstances like these.
This post was updated on July 7, 2008.