It’s Dr. Kelly Wood, your Balanced Living Health and Wellness expert. My mission is to help women (and a few courageous men) who may struggle with their weight and experience one or more chronic illnesses overcome their limitations and achieve total wellness and balanced living: mind,body and spirit. I do this through my blog, speaking and individualized group and VIP Balanced Living programs.
My best friend Michelle visited me in Philadelphia during Fall 2007. I was doing my medical residency there and I was so excited to show her the city I had grown to love. I planned on taking her to the Historic District to explore the must-see attractions such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We would also try out some new restaurants and have a girls’ night out enjoying our favorite cocktails.
However, the trip didn’t turn out the way I had planned. We had an argument which destroyed our friendship. To be honest, I can’t sensibly explain why we argued because it was so silly. We were both immature back then and didn’t know what conflict resolution skills were or that we could use them. If I’m also completely transparent, I had a habit of letting things fester until I exploded, just like heating food in covered Tupperware in a microwave for too long.
In any event, we stopped communicating after the argument. For two whole years!
Life went on for both of us but losing her friendship nagged at me. I didn’t have peace. I prayed about it and knew I needed to call her and ask her to forgive me. So I called. I told her I was sorry for how I acted and asked for her forgiveness.
I was overjoyed when she also asked for forgiveness and said that she missed our friendship.
Fast forward to Fall 2017, Michelle and I are still best friends. It took time to rebuild our friendship but now I can’t imagine life without her.
I’m by no means implying that forgiveness will always lead to restoration of relationship. In fact, sometimes it’s best to establish clear boundaries and keep your distance from toxic people who have no intention of changing. But in most, if not all cases, forgiveness is more for you than for them.
You’ve heard the cliché that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It’s true! Unforgiveness can make you sick.
Medical studies have shown that when you hold on to bitterness and resentment, there is an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. You are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and even diabetes. Chronic unforgiveness can also lead to depression as well as anxiety. An Oncologist also found that over 60% of his patients with cancer had unresolved unforgiveness and it affected how they responded to their chemotherapy treatment.
Some people are better at forgiving than others and they usually lead healthier, happier lives. Forgiveness has been shown to decrease stress; improve sleep, mood and even the immune system.
Who do you need to forgive?
You may have had some absolutely horrible things happen to you at the hands of absolutely horrible people. It’s easy to forgive the small stuff but the really egregious offences… not so much.
How can you learn to forgive them?
It’s OK and actually healthy to acknowledge that you’ve been hurt and to allow yourself to feel the emotions. Holding on to your pain only prolongs the process. Sharing your story with a trusted friend, speaking to a religious leader or to a trained counselor can help to release the negative feelings.
Some experts also recommend Journal writing to get your emotions out or even writing whoever has hurt you a letter. Say everything that you wish you could say in the letter and then destroy it.
You may have to go deep into your past to your childhood. Parents and other authority figures can hurt their children deeply. But you can show empathy and know that they did the best they could with the tools they had. By putting yourself in the shoes of those who hurt you, it might be easier to forgive them.
If you’re really struggling with forgiving someone who hurt you, pray. Ask God to give you the strength to forgive.
One reason why forgiving others is so difficult for us is because we haven’t learned how to forgive ourselves. Do you have to forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made in the past?
Norman Cousins, an American journalist said “Life is an adventure in forgiveness”. As long as we’re in relationship with other flawed humans just as we are, we will have to forgive.
To learn more about Balanced Living or our programs, please connect with me by visiting https://www.facebook.com/DrKellyWoodMD/