Did you know that burying the hatchet offers many health benefits? Letting go of anger and resentment can actually reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help you breathe easier. Holding anger inside is linked to heart disease and stroke, possibly taking years from your life. 

In a study called “Forgive to Live,” psychologist Loren Toussaint and colleagues found that the inability to forgive others may predict an earlier age of death. That is especially true of conditional forgiveness, when a person desperately waits for an apology. Conditional forgiveness can bear negative energy, as individuals who put demands on their forgiveness typically continue to harbor resentment and grudges.

These negative emotions can especially impair heart health. Staying upset over the past is not good on the ticker. What is more, nursing negative feelings keeps you in a state of stress, and stress can take years off your life. This resentment is not always directed at others. Some individuals cannot forgive themselves. This is especially damaging to your mental health, robbing you of joy, peace, and happiness.

But, how can you let go?

Recognize the behavior for what it is. Ask yourself what it is doing to you? How much time and energy do you spend dwelling on the matter?

Understand that forgiveness is something you do for others, but it’s mostly an important action you do for yourself. When you harbor resentment, you cannot experience personal growth, true health, or inner calm.

If you truly want to live longer and be healthier and happier, do not wait for others to come to you. Take the first step. Start the process of forgiveness in your own mind and then follow it through with genuine action. When you forgive others unconditionally—without expectations—you are generating superior mind-body health.

By Christina Leidenheimer, CPT, CHLC, CPI

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