Health Benefits of Forgiveness

Each one of us experience countless injustices in the course of everyday living. Like other experiences, it is not the experience itself so much that counts, but how you process it. The Mayo Clinic addresses the health benefits of “forgiveness” which they define as “an intentional decision to let go of resentment and anger”. Letting go of grudges and bitterness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower blood pressure
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Better sleep

Everett Worthington, Profession Emeritus of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, provides a free workbook at to aid those for whom forgiveness may be difficult (most of us!), focusing on the REACH method.

Recall: Recall the hurt. Look at the incident in an objective way and don’t try to push aside your feelings.

Empathize:  Empathize with the offender without excusing the action or invalidating your own feels. Maybe the person was having a bad day or was raised in dire circumstances.

Altruistic gift: Give the altruistic gift of forgiveness. Think about a time when you were rude or harsh, and recognize that everyone has shortcomings.

Commit: Make a decision to forgive. You can write a letter that you don’t send to help yourself make the commitment.

Hold: Hold on to forgiveness. Memories of the transgression or event won’t change. But how you react to those feelings will.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”. — Buddha

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