Forgiveness and Healing

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Jan 18th, 12
How forgiveness can aid healing.

Forgiveness and Healing

by Ken Bailey, LMFT

“Forgiveness brings a peace and freedom to the offended that the person who refuses to acknowledge their offense will never know.”

Kelli Moore

“Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.”

Lewis Smedes

For years the topic of forgiveness was the primary domain of theologians and philosophers. Most of the historical discussions of forgiveness have contained an element of the divine and how forgiveness is achieved by a higher power. But over the past fifteen or so years, forgiveness has become a topic of interest and study in the medical and behavioral health communities. Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin, Duke University and the Mayo clinic are just a few of the places that have been researching the health benefits of forgiveness.

Some of the findings have been quite remarkable, but not surprising. From much of the research one overwhelming conclusion can be drawn. Learning to forgive is good for your health, both physically and mentally.

The research shows that forgiveness helps improve cardiovascular functioning, reduce stress, lowers blood pressure, decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety, minimizes chronic pain, reduces Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome symptoms, reduces the risk of alcohol and other drug abuse, improves intimate relationships, and contributes to overall psychological well-being.

Why is forgiveness so powerful? Maybe it’s because it requires a commitment to change. Maybe it’s because it when we hold on to resentments our brain produces chemicals that act as emotional cement that actually strengthens the negative bond that ties us up and feeds the very behavior that is keeping us stuck. Maybe it’s because if we work on forgiveness toward those who have unfairly treated us, we learn more about how to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes. Maybe it something completely different, but the research shows it works.

So, here are a few suggestions that may help if you choose to take the journey into forgiveness.


  • Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting, nor does it necessarily mean reconciliation.
  • Forgiveness is not about the offender, but about the person who has been wronged.
  • Realize that the pain you suffer may be coming from your hurt feelings breitling aeromarine watches and sense of resentment of the act, not necessarily the act itself.
  • Forgiveness, at least for some, is a choice. Choose to forgive.
  • Let go. Make a decision to release the anger and bitterness.
  • Focus on positive things over which you do have control.


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