Unforgiveness and your health
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Kate Megase MBACP, Registered and Accredited
29th December, 20170 Comments
Unforgiveness is when you are unwilling or unable to forgive someone for hurting, betraying, breaking your trust or causing you intense emotional pain. Forgiving is highly recommended, as there are various researches that have been carried out which shows that unforgiveness causes health issues including:
- Cancer - 61% of cancer patients have forgiveness issues
- Suppressed anger - people often get angry for any reason have issues associated with forgiveness
- Low self-esteem - lack of self-love stem from not forgiving your self or self-acceptance
- Bitterness - increases the risk of depression
- Constant worrying increases of the risk sleep deprivation and anxiety
- Blood pressure
- Heart disease
When someone has hurt or disappointed you, the logical response would be to think that you’re hurting them by not forgiving them and holding a grudge. The harsh truth is that you’re actually causing yourself more pain by holding on to the anger, and the person that you wish not to forgive has the subconscious power to control you. However, you can get disconnected from the power of control when you forgive.
How to learn to forgive
When you feel that you have been hurt intensely by someone close to you, it’s very hard to even begin to consider forgiving them, as you want them to feel the pain. However, the first step is to release the emotional pain by making a conscious decision to forgive and let go. This process may take time, due to different emotions that you have to process.
Letting go of the baggage
True forgiveness is when you forgive and forget. However, we are imperfect human beings and although we may forgive we may not always forget as there may be incidents where we are triggered or remaindered of past events. Even if it is a struggle to forget, it’s very important to forgive by letting go of the emotional pain that has been caused.
Take responsibility for that part that you played
You can never control anyone, the only person that you can control is yourself. Taking responsibility for how you allowed someone to hurt you, enables you to set boundaries so you don’t put yourself in the same situation again.
It’s easier to forgive others when you learn to forgive yourself. No one can truly hurt you deeply unless you allow them. Sometimes it’s easier to blame others for causing you pain. However, the depth of the pain depends on the boundaries that you set within all your relationships. Forgive yourself for allowing others to treat you with disrespect or emotional pain
Be aware of the negative emotions that you feel towards the other person including anger, bitterness, hurt, hatred, and jealousy. Awareness will help you to acknowledge the need to forgive. Holding on to the negative emotions is highly toxic and not good for your health.
You don’t need to make excuses for the person that hurt you. Even if you don’t want them back in your life, it’s essential to accept how you feel and the fact that you can’t change the past.
Learn from the experience
Sometimes we have to go through negative and painful experiences to learn some life lessons, which helps to develop ourselves. In every negative experience, it’s very important to ask yourself, what lessons you have learnt. This will enable you to avoid repeating the same thing over and over again. If you keep doing the same thing and don’t learn from the painful experiences then you will experience the same thing (pain) in your life. Life is like a classroom and people are teachers, and they come into our lives to teach certain things about ourselves. So take the time to learn the lessons regardless of how painful it may be.
Talk about it
When you feel ready to forgive, make arrangements to contact the person that has hurt you and express yourself. Talking things over helps you to let go.
If you have decided that you no longer want to have the person that has hurt you back in your life, then that is fine. You can write a letter to that person and bin or burn the letter. Writing helps to get rid of any negative suppressed emotions.
About the author
I am a counsellor, coach and motivational speaker. I specialise in issues associated with relationships, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
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