Forgiveness: A Pathway to Better Health

People have their ways of coping up to anger or hatred.  Maybe some of us have a good heart to forgive easily to the person who did them bad but there are always people who have a hard time forgiving others for the bad they did or do because maybe that person is really special to them and they don’t expect that they can do such thing like hurting them.  Not a one-time event hinging on a single choice, forgiveness is often a series of choices and steps.  Sometimes it takes a while for the heart to catch up with the head.    I personally, sometime had a hard time forgiving those people who hurt me but if i continue hating that person, I feel it is a bit stressful and unhealthy to my mind and heart to hate that person for a long time.

I read an article about forgiveness, a pathway to better health in one of our old health book my sister had and I want to share it here.  Hope it will enlighten those people who have hard time dealing about forgiveness.  It is written by Allison Kitchen of the book health and home.

Forgiveness has long laid the foundation for spiritual well-being in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  But scientific research now suggests its healing power may extend beyond the sacred realm.  Research shows links between forgiveness and physical and mental health.  While this may come a some surprise to secular scientist, psychologist Dan Shoultz says God has created the need to give and receive as an important part of our makeup as human being.  “We were designed by God to not hold onto anger, revenge, bitterness, and resentment, “shoultz says.  “When we do, it’s destructive to our being, leading to a slow and insidious breakdown of the entire system”.  When you forgive, you walk into opportunity to unload some psychological baggage of hostility and bitterness.

Everyone experiences the need to give and receive forgiveness at some point in life.  But according to many Christian counselors, most people don’t really know how to go about the business of forgiving.  As bitterness wreaks havoc in their lives, many turn to professionals for help.  Christian psychologist Dan Shoultz has helped a number of people through the process and identifies the five steps of forgiveness.

Stepping Stone to Freedom—5 Stages of forgiveness, he believes that forgiveness is essential for healthy living, the process can be long and painful one but one also well worth the effort.

  1. Recognize the true depth of an injury.  “When people try to forgive without going through this stage, they minimize the injury,” Shoultz says.  “Forgiveness by minimizing or overlooking is not true forgiveness.”
  2. Grieve over your losses.  Often people are afraid to touch their pain, but he believes actually feeling the depth of the sadness and pain is the only way to keep it from continuing to dominate life by simmering below the surface.
  3. Examine perception you have created about the world because of the injury.  “Often people make broad sweeping judgments about life, particularly after a major injury,” Shoultz says.  “These often faulty core beliefs can keep them bound in unhealthy patterns.”

Together, these first stages may take several months, particularly if the injury is a serious one.  It’s a mistake, he says, to assume that forgiveness is a single choice.  Often it’s a series of choices and steps, and sometimes it takes a while for the heart to catch up with the head.

  1. Learn empathy skills.  In order to follow through with genuine forgiveness, he says people must be able to identify with the perpetrator on a human level.  They, too, respond out of their own problems, pain, and fear, which lead them to the hurtful choices they make.  Many psychologists say this step is perhaps the most critical in terms of generating genuine forgiveness.
  2. Challenge prevalent myths about forgiveness.  Shoultz says he tries to help people realize they can forgive and maintain their integrity.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean relationship must be completely restored or that a person won’t feel angry about a sinful offense.

Shoultz says these five stages lay the foundation for the final work of forgiveness.  It involves several steps, such as recognizing that vengeance belongs to God; realizing that holding on to anger will lead to further damage to oneself; understanding how great God’s forgiveness for humanity is through Christ; choosing to let go, interrupting destructive thoughts and putting productive ones in their place; turning to others for help in the process; and praying that God will give the strength and power to forgive.  Forgiveness takes commitments, focus and dedication.  No one who has ever walked the road will say it is easy but in forgiveness, one exchanges anger, bitterness, hatred, depression, and perhaps health problems, for joy, peace, and freedom—not a bad trade by standard.

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