Why it’s Best to Forgive and Move On

Forgiving others can actually improve your physical health

Practising forgiveness means making the effort to put wrongs behind you

Alexander Pope called it divine, and Ghandi called it an attribute of the strong.

However, forgiveness is more than a virtue – it’s an important part of well-being and good physical health.

People who practise forgiveness experience reduced hypertension, chronic pain and stress, better cardiovascular function, less anxiety, faster healing, and improved chances of recovering from addiction. Forgiveness also plays a role in improving personal relationships and increasing optimism and self-esteem.

Just as forgiveness can help heal, holding on to anger and frustration can do great harm, raising blood pressure and stress levels and increasing your susceptibility to disease. Sustained resentment can also block your ability to connect with others, leading to isolation and depression.

Practising forgiveness doesn’t mean you must condone every wrong; it means making the effort to put wrongs behind you.

Forgiveness is a learnable skill and involves:

  • Preventing yourself from repeatedly replaying the injury in your mind

  • Reducing the importance of the event in your life

  • Changing the story of the event, so you are not the focus

  • Considering how your reaction to an offence may be doing more harm than the offence itself.

The benefits of forgiveness are not affected by whether or not the person who committed the transgression against you admits wrongdoing, or even by a lack of reconciliation. You can forgive someone while maintaining boundaries that protect you from further harm.

Don’t let lingering anger, frustration or resentment eat away at your mental and physical well-being. Harness the power of forgiveness and move on.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.