Forgiveness is a divine quality that we all possess.  In the words of Alexander Pope “ To err is human, to forgive is divine”.  What scientific research has now shown is that forgiving past wrongs can play a role in treatment of a variety of health issues including anxiety, depression and chronic pain.  When we focus on forgiving, our blood pressure drops, our heart rate slows down, our mood improves.  In fact, forgiveness can improve the state of our health!

In a holistic model of health care, forgiveness would be part of any treatment plan and not just forgiveness of others but forgiveness of self.  How many of us walk around with negative self talk or regrets about things “we should” have done.  When it comes to forgiveness, the first person we need to forgive is ourself. Only when we acknowledge our pain and forgive ourselves, will we be able to see the pain of others and be able to forgive them.

Here are 5 steps you can take on this journey of healing through forgiveness

    1. Describe the emotions you feel as you consider the “unjust” event.  Name those emotions.  Do you feel anger, shame, guilt?.  Are these emotions towards “self” or the “offender”.  Take as much time as needed to acknowledge your feelings and experiences and put them in words.  Do not minimize what you feel.  Your emotions are valid no matter how trivial they may seem.
    2. Most of us never learned how to process emotions. If you are feeling these emotions now, it means they were not processed and are still stuck in you.  Journal these emotions, write whatever comes to mind, do not censor it.  The stuck emotions will only come out if you don’t censor them.  Acknowledge and validate all that you feel.  Tears are okay.  Crying is a form of detoxification.  It allows the emotions to move out of our body.
    3. Consider how you feel once you have released all the emotions you were holding on to about the “unjust” event. Do you feel lighter? Are you ready to forgive?  Remember that forgiveness is a path to freedom for you.  It takes away the power the other person has to cause you to feel negative emotions.
    4. You may not be ready to forgive right away after releasing the emotions around the incident and that is okay. Show compassion for yourself.  Acknowledge yourself and your strengths.  Show some “Self love” and when you are ready to let go and forgive, you will know.
    5. Forgive yourself first. This is a very important step in this journey.  Then make a conscious choice to forgive the other person.  Writing it down on paper in a journal makes it more concrete.  If you don’t want anyone to see your journaling, you can always burn or shred the pages.

Remember to seek support, if you need, in this process of forgiveness.  Several community resources are available to help you process your pain and move towards forgiveness.  As in the words of Desmond Tutu,  “When you forgive, your future is unshackled from your past”.

Let the ‘light’ that is you shine through!

Yours in Health & Wellness

Aziza Amarshi, RPh, RHN

Pharmacist, Holistic Nutritionist