Unforgiveness and resentment: two very powerful emotions that occasionally creep into my life.
Unfortunately, there are things that happen in our lives that are not good. We wonder “Why did this happen?” “Why did that person do that?” “Why did I do that?” All are valid questions, but what often comes next is anger, unforgiveness, and resentment. This is where the challenge begins.
If someone has hurt us or someone close to us, our emotions toward the offender can become negative and those feelings are real. It could also be we do something we regret and our emotions toward our self can become negative. Our emotions are normal, but what we do with these emotions is the really important part because they can negatively affect our health and well-being.
There have been some things that have recently happened to a couple of people close to me that have stirred up these emotions, but I have made the choice to not let the emotions turn to anger. Please note that I am not saying to let people “off the hook” for things they have done. There are consequences to anyone’s actions. I am talking about our own plan of action to deal with these thoughts and emotions.
You may be wondering how unforgiveness and resentment relates to health. Writing in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology in 2010, the researchers Erick Messias, Anil Saini, Philip Sinato, and Stephen Welch report that those who said they tended to hold grudges reported higher rates of heart disease and cardiac arrest, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain than those who didn’t share this tendency. Though most scientists note that much more research is needed on the subject, this isn’t the only study linking unforgiveness to health problems.
I know that when I have dealt with feelings of unforgiveness or resentment, I have been more susceptible to headaches, colds and exhaustion. This then affects my motivation to eat well and stay active. Which in turn negatively affects my over all health. It can be a vicious cycle!
In a recent article by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology specializing in Neuropsychology, she states that “75% to 95% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. What we think about affects us physically and emotionally. It’s an epidemic of toxic emotions.” Further into the article she shares how our toxic thoughts can negatively change our DNA.
So how do I deal with these feelings? Here are three actions that I have found to work for me when I am dealing with unforgiveness or resentment.
- First, I journal my feelings. Writing it down helps me to “let go” of the emotions and process the situation. Often times it is like a weight has been lifted and I can move on.
- Second, I choose to think on positive things, not on the negative of what has happened. I would venture to guess we all have rehearsed situations over and over in our minds. This often builds more resentment so I have to choose not to do this. Is it tough? YES!! I am an analytical person so I am always trying to analyze situations, but I have to make the decision to not dwell on the negative.
- Third, I find self-talk can be helpful. I have found it helpful to not only think about positive things, but to actually talk out-loud to myself. This may sound crazy, but actually hearing myself say positive things helps me to focus more and move on. We have to be our own cheerleader to work through tough situations. This is a lifestyle choice. We can help our life to thrive by making this choice, but more importantly our health depends on it.
I recently found a great discussion guide that helped me to delve deeper into processing these thoughts and emotions. I hope you will find the discussion guide helpful too. Let me know if the guide was helpful for you.
I believe Hippocrates thoughts of “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”, but I also believe Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Don’t let unforgiveness or resentment affect your health, you have a plan and purpose in this life and you need to be healthy to fulfill that plan.
If you have had unforgiveness or resentment in your life, how did you deal with it? When you over came it, did any area of your health improve or change?
Disclaimer: This website is for general information only. This information provided is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Do not rely on information provided here for your own health conditions. If you have specific questions regarding your own health, raise them with your primary care physician.