When we or a loved one has been harmed or taken advantage of in some way, our first response is often to “get back” at the one who did the hurting. It’s not unnatural to wish for retribution, but it is most definitely harmful.
We need to think of grudges and the lack of forgiveness as harming our own health and well being rather than the one our anger is directed toward. As the old saying goes, “While I was home hating my enemy, he was out dancing.” The only one this toxic emotion harms is you. Think of withholding forgiveness as shackles around your soul – think of forgiveness as the key that sets you free.
I know it’s easier said than done, but it can be done. And remember – forgive does not mean forget – it means to allow the open wound to heal and turn into a scar.
A website called “3 Fat Chicks” posted an article about the way anger can physically effect our body – here’s what they had to say:
- Weight Gain – One of the most misunderstood responses to anger is weight gain. Some people know that when they get angry they may resort to eating for comfort. This is only half the reality. When a person gets angry, especially females, the body responds to the stress from the anger by releasing the chemical cortisol. Known as the ’stress hormone’, elevated cortisol levels are notorious for affecting weight gain by creating fat deposits in the abdominal area.
- Central Nervous System – Our central nervous system reacts with great sensitivity to the thalmus and hypothalmus output in the brain. This area of the brain is the nerve center of, amongst many other things, our emotions. If anger is suppressed it becomes like a pressure cooker needing some form of release. Therefore, our central nervous system will respond with such symptoms as headaches including the debilitating migraine,heart palpitations that may result in the affliction known as mitral valve prolapse (this causes dizziness, claustrophobia and panic attacks) and tingling in the hands and feet all due to suppressed anger.
- Muscles – Many massage therapists will report that their clients that have stress due to anger often hold this emotion in their musculoskeletal system. The muscles react in our ‘fight or flight’ response and will uncontrollably contract when anger arises. The result is tight, sore, spasming muscles creating a very painful response. Most people will not recognize their deep seated anger as the culprit sending them on a journey of constant maintenance that often slips into prescribed muscle relaxers that do more damage to the body than good.
- The Gastrointestinal Tract – The GI Tract is the primary location of our immune system. It is here where the body extracts and eliminates vital minerals and vitamins as well as unneeded waste. It is also here where anger usually strikes first. This is why most people feel a pain in their gut when anger rears its ugly head. The entire chemical release that enhances digestion and elimination can often shut down, or worse, release acids that are powerful enough to lead to such ailments as peptic ulcers, diarrhea, acid reflux, intestinal cramping, constipation and even hiccups.
- Healing – A study from the University of Ohio found that men and women struggling with anger issues have a more difficult time healing from minor wounds.
Wow. Not good. So what can we do to release the anger and our foe? Acknowledge your pain. Don’t wait for them to apologize – they most likely will not. Move on and let go. Be patient – the pain won’t flee the moment you forgive. It takes time. If you are having a really hard time letting go, seek counseling. It’s important. Picture yourself tethered to the person or situation and then picture yourself cutting the cord that connects and see yourself floating away from it. Do this often.
The results of forgiveness are a great sense of peace and release. You will also serve as a great example to those who know and love you. Be the bigger person.
Forgiveness is a gift. Open it today.