This the season....
To feel ALL the feelings, good and bad. Especially the ones related to family or lack of family or family that has done you wrong.
Like no other time of the year, the holidays are a minefield of love and unforgiveness, sometimes in equal measure. Seeing all these people is almost guaranteed to bring up both your happy memories and your grudges.
The happy memories are good for your mind and body, but what are those other memories doing?
The grudges - whether righteous or not - are wrecking your emotional AND physical health.
A big part of the problem is that we just don't understand forgiveness. Even if we get it intellectually, to our tender wounded hearts it feels risky, like we could end up in even worse shape.
Before telling you the horrible things unforgiveness is doing to your body, let's chat about what forgiveness is and isn't.
1. Forgiveness is how you safely dump the toxic brew of anger, hurt, and resentment festering inside of you. That means, forgiving is 100% self serving, the ultimate self care. You do it for YOU and no one else.
2. Forgiveness is acknowledging that everyone gets treated unfairly sometimes and the universe does not have a target in your back. Yes, it feels that way sometimes, but that is coming from your own focus on being treated poorly, real or sometimes imagined.
3. Forgiveness does NOT mean you have to make up with the other person or even tell them you've forgiven them. In fact, the driving need to tell them you've forgiven them is your ego needing to be stroked for being the bigger person. That's not forgiveness.
4. Forgiveness is for you. If it helps anyone else, that's a bonus benefit. While it's true that some relationships get healed, the main healing is within yourself, your own mind and your body.
So what happens to a body that is harboring anger, resentment, or a garden-variety grudge?
1. Disrupted sleep.
2. Impaired cardiovascular function and spiking blood pressure.
3. More prone to chronic illness or pain.
4. Higher mortality rate.
5. Increased cortisol which negatively affects blood sugar and suppresses immune system.
6. Increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
7. Increased belly fat.
None of us want anything on that list.
The cool thing is forgiveness is free. No pricey prescriptions or doctor visits required.
Yes, it takes inner work, but the payoff is huge and the reward is strong.
An easy-ish way to start is by imagining how your future self will feel after dumping the the self-pity and bitterness. Feels good, doesn't it?