FORGIVENESS & YOUR HEALTH
Dr. Robert Dee McDonald
Published in Integrated Health International Magazine, Fall Edition 2014
What Forgiveness is Not:
Forgiveness is not forgetting, which would make the victim unconscious of the offense. Forgiveness is not an excuse, which would fail to hold the offender responsible for his or her behavior. Forgiveness does not condone the offender's behavior, which would fail to regard the hurtful behavior as something to forgive. And forgiveness is not reconciliation, which would regard the relationship as restored.
Forgiveness is a process by which an injured person lets go of negative emotions, and has an increased ability to wish the offender well. Specifically, when you no longer demand any change in the being of the person who hurt you, you have forgiven that person. Very broadly, to forgive is to let go of the demand that the past be any different than it was.
The Benefits of Forgiveness:
If you decide to wait until those who have wronged you become worthy of your forgiveness, you will wait forever for inner peace, in the midst of your suffering. If you believe, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and a limb for a limb," then your entire world will be blind, toothless and lame. The truth is you cannot find inner peace without forgiveness.
The emotional reason to forgive is to obtain the universally valued benefits of forgiveness. The most common benefit of forgiveness is inner peace. In fact, the only way to achieve peace of mind is to alter the painful thoughts you have been harboring within yourself. You cannot have inner peace by holding on to the same thoughts that cause you to feel hurt, angry, depressed, or miserable. The path of un-forgiveness, of holding a grudge, simply adds suffering to the pain of the original offense.
On another level, the physical reason to forgive is revealed in research that shows people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. Forgiveness has specific bodily benefits, such as improved functioning of the cardiovascular and nervous systems. These physical benefits are known to occur when people simply think about forgiving an offender. A study at the University of Wisconsin found the more forgiving people were, the less they suffered from a range of illnesses. The people who forgave less reported a greater number of health problems.
And finally, the Spiritual benefit of forgiveness occurs the moment you forgive everyone and everything in your life. When you forgive in this broad way, you awaken in the present, to the here and now, because you are freed from all bondage to your past. The prison doors are flung open. Then you can literally see, sing and dance the praises of everything that has ever happened to you. This is a profoundly blissful state.
Separate Being From Behavior:
But remember this, there is value in keeping an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out. In order to forgive you must separate being from behavior, that is, what someone is, is not the same as what someone does. The person who harmed you is a human being, not a human doing. A person's being, when deeply contemplated, is absolutely good and cannot be otherwise. A person's behavior, however, may be wrong, bad and even evil. So, your work is to forgive and remember. You let go of the demand that the past be different than it was, remember that the other person is capable of such behavior, and act accordingly. In this way, you remain fully awake and your actions come from inner peace.
Barriers to Forgiveness:
If you think about it, you'll find that you hold a certain amount of hope in the middle of your unresolved hurt and anger. Your hope is usually this: "If I am hurt and angry long enough and obviously enough, surely the one who wounded me will wakeup, change in some way, and I will feel better." Forgiveness occurs when you let go of all hope for change that has become the basis of the pain it intends to heal.
Ultimately, you want to give and receive love. Most people spend a good deal of time demanding that other people, particularly those who have hurt us, manifest the virtue of love before we do, or as we do, or in equal amounts. However, the deep peace of mind that you seek emerges only when you forgive everything and everyone, which is a personal decision to fully let go.
The goal of forgiving is inner peace. Nothing more and nothing less. If your inner peace is attached to a change in your past or in another person, powerlessness and unnecessary suffering will inevitably emerge. On the other hand, if you let go of the demand that your past be different than it was, if you let go of the demand that the other be different than he/she was and is, then there will be a kind of a death. The death of a futile hope.
When we face this kind of death with an open heart, putting our faith in love, we find peace in realizing that death is simply letting go of that which has become unnecessary. We realize that we truly belong here, within love's embrace. With this understanding, we can authentically bless and praise all that has been, all that is and all that will be. In this way, we become grateful and experience joy, the bliss of heaven. And our hearts can rest in the peace that passes all understanding.
A Method to Forgive:
My most powerful method for creating profound inner peace is what I call the Forgiving the Un-Forgivable Process. This extraordinarily powerful tool gently guides you to accept the positive function of your suffering. Then it leads you in a profound process of integration that lifts you to the next level of conscious evolution. All of my work is designed to resolve chronic stress, strengthen your immune system, and support you on what I call the Path of the Seven Virtues, which includes authenticity, humility, mercy, forgiveness, grace, wisdom and ultimately love.
© 2014 Copyright by Dr. Robert Dee McDonald. All Right Reserved.
The Telos Healing Center • 714-577-5717 • www.TelosCenter.com