Forgiveness is like an apple a day… keeps the doctor away

Traditional western medicine treats symptoms. If we are depressed, we get a pill for depression. If we are having panic attacks, we get a pill for anxiety. If we have aches and pains, we get pain relievers and muscle relaxants.

The truth is that stress causes many of our health problems. What causes stress? Some obvious examples are feeling threatened, feeling fearful, or being under pressure. However, a significant cause of long term stress that you may not be aware of is living a life with persistent anger, guilt, hurt, or resentment. These feelings may be so pervasive that we just think of them as a normal, immutable, part of our lives. Nevertheless, they create an adverse reaction in our bodies that can result in disease. These feelings persist when we are unable to forgive the person we believe is responsible for the events causing these feelings.

There are five things you can do right now in your life to increase your chances of staying healthy:

Get control over your thoughts
Unfortunately, many of us obsess over and over again about how someone hurt us or worse yet, we literally beat ourselves up. When these unhealthy thoughts are repeated over and over again, they become our beliefs. In other words, they become who we are rather than what we think. As we become our thoughts, they become ingrained in our physicality. Thoughts can be as acidic as the foods we eat. Remember that a thought is just a thought, it is not necessarily the truth.

Become more flexible with your thoughts
People who are black and white thinkers have more trouble forgiving than their more flexible counter-parts. This “right/wrong” way of thinking keeps you playing the blame game and as long as you are pointing your finger at someone else, and feel a righteous sense of indignation, you can’t forgive. This is because you believe that forgiveness has something to do with the person who hurt you. This is a false belief. Forgiveness has everything to do with YOU. It is a gift to yourself, to feel more peace in your life.

Let go of stress on a regular basis
The good news is that we know that there are ways to deal with stress, and research supports these lifestyle changes, such as meditation, yoga, aerobic exercise, being out in nature, getting regular massages, increasing your sexual activity, smiling more, having a regular gratitude practice, praying, counseling, studying a Course in Miracles or participating in another spiritual group, and working with a coach to live a happier, more passion-filled life. One of my favorite stress relievers is to laugh with girlfriends. Many people wait until one of the 3 D’s hits them: Death of a loved one, Disease, or Divorce. You don’t have to wait for the WAKE-UP call.

Let go of past grudges
If the past is following you into your future, you need to let it go. No one has ever proven a benefit to me of living in the past, or holding onto past grudges. In the same vein, beating yourself up for something you did in the past is a waste of time. If there is something you did, apologize and let yourself off the hook. If someone did something to hurt you, remember that YOU holding onto the hurt, anger, bitterness is hurting you, not them.

“The past is over. It doesn’t matter who we are, where we came from, what Mommy said, what Daddy did, what mistakes were made, what diseases we have or how depressed we feel. The future can be reprogrammed at this moment.” Marianne Williamson

I know, sometimes it feels like you’ve forgiven and then BOOM! Something happens that triggers you right back to that same hurt or anger. Realize and accept that this is the onion phenomenon, and you just have another layer to deal with.

Build your forgiveness muscle

Research also supports the fact that FORGIVENESS reduces stress and when practiced, is a factor for staying healthy. So if we know that forgiveness actually increases health, why are people reticent to forgive?

Oftentimes people do not want to forgive because they believe one of these common myths or misperceptions about forgiveness:

1. You will let the offender off the hook if you forgive.

2. It would mean you somehow agree with or condone their bad behavior.

3. It would mean you have to naively trust that person again.

4. It means you have to have a relationship with that person.

5. It means that you are weak.

Once you decide to “practice living with forgiveness” then you will find it is easier to release and let go on a regular basis. You will find that you do not get as caught up in the trauma-drama of your friends and family. Things that might have made you angry will suddenly not be a big deal. In other words, you will find more peace in your life.

Only you can decide if you are willing to let go of your emotional baggage and your grudges from the past. If you believe that your thoughts create your reality, why would you allow hurtful, harmful thoughts to reside within? My clients tell me they do believe that thoughts create their reality, and I often respond, “Yes, but what if you REALLY believed it. What if you believed it whole heartedly, not just intellectually. How would your life be different?”

How can your forgiveness practice be your daily apple?

Lori S. Rubenstein is a passionate lifetime learner in the art of forgiveness. She has been blessed with the gift of getting to practice forgiveness her whole life and believes that our life path, our journey, is exactly what we need to meet our soul’s desire. Thus, there is a purpose and a reason for everything. She is the author of Forgiveness: Heal Your Past and Find the Peace YOU Deserve. For more assistance with Forgiveness, watch this video or go get your 28 day step-by-step class to transform your life through forgiveness.

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