An Unexpected Way to Reduce Your Stress and Improve Your Health

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Learn how forgiveness and letting go of negative emotions can literally reduce your blood pressure, improve sleep, and even relieve sinus infections. From Unconditional Forgiveness: A Simple and Proven Method to Forgive Everyone and Everything by Mary Hayes Grieco.

Healing stuck emotional issues, especially resentments, is a key to health and vitality. Holding on to negative emotions is destructive, no matter how “right” we think we are. If we do not completely process and release a hurt or resentment, we carry it around in our physical selves. We carry it in our energy fields, or in our muscles, joints, organs, and immune systems. We know this to be true, intuitively: if we are full of old issues it feels almost the same as being forty pounds overweight. We are tired. We get sick. We lose our joy. We live only half the lives we could be living.

“Your issues are in your tissues.” Today this common sense truth is being tested and proven in scientific and medical research. In the last dozen years, thousands of new studies have emerged to explore the relationship between emotional toxicity and physical disease, as well as the relationship between the practice of forgiveness and the measurable reduction of physical stress (see Appendix E, “Current Research on Forgiveness and Health,” on page 183).

People identified to be in toxic stress conditions who were taught to forgive:
• Lowered their blood pressure
• Improved their immune system response
• Reduced their anxiety and depression
• Improved the quality of their sleep
• Improved their self-esteem and sense of empowerment
• Reduced their stress
• Reduced their dysfunctional patterns of behavior
• Improved the quality of their personal and professional relationships
• Increased their energy levels
• Improved their sense of social integration and belonging
• Increased their peace of mind in daily life
• Increased their experience of peace in the dying process

People are starting to understand that the ability to forgive is, in fact, an important health habit and probably the next important public health issue. In the same way that we now understand that we should quit smoking, eat fruits and vegetables, drink water, and exercise, we are beginning to understand that hate and anger states are toxic to us, and that we need to learn how to deal with them. My own experience in twenty-five years of practicing and teaching a potent method of forgiveness has shown me time and again that a pleasant byproduct of emotional healing is the resolution of a physical health problem that was rooted in the emotional issue.

Here are a few times I’ve witnessed physical conditions resolving after forgiveness exercises:
• I have worked with three different people whose colon cancers went into remission after a short, intense bout of forgiveness work on historical resentments. All of these people were convinced that their cancers were caused by the huge pile of resentments that were “eating them up” inside, and that their forgiveness caused remission of the cancers.

• I had a student who cleared up a case of colitis that she had struggled with for sixteen years—the same amount of time that she was angry with her ex-husband! She had never made the connection between her issues with her ex and her colitis, but this persistent condition was 50 percent better the day after she finally forgave him, and the rest of it cleared up completely over the next six months.

• I reliably get a sinus infection after a week or so of being irritated at my husband about something. In her groundbreaking work You Can Heal Your Life, author Louise Hay explores the metaphysical connection between unconscious mental beliefs and physical disease. She claims that sinus infections start from ‘irritation with someone close to you in your environment.” I think it must be true, because my sinuses start clearing and draining within hours of forgiving my husband. This little health phenomenon is a recurring reminder to me that I am only hurting myself by remaining irritated with my husband, and that I want to live the way of unconditional love and forgiveness because it feels better. I may not like what he’s doing, but I dislike sinus infections more. So, I forgive him because I want to be healthy more than I want to be right! And it’s far nicer to see the big picture and feel love for him than it is to remain annoyed about the small stuff.

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