How for­give­ness im­proves mental well-be­ing

The Manica Post - - Health - Dr Mazvita Machinga

ALL of us have ex­pe­ri­enced sit­u­a­tions where we need to for­give or to be for­given.

This is not an easy task at all and it has never been meant to be. For­give­ness is hard to give or get at times. In my day to day prac­tice of psy­chother­apy, in­di­vid­u­als and cou­ples strug­gle to re­ceive or of­fer for­give­ness, yet it is one part of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion that we all need. At some point in life every­one makes mis­takes, and we all want for­give­ness.

When some­one hurts you, you tend to carry thoughts or feel­ings of re­sent­ment, anger, and ha­tred and th­ese can slowly cause de­bil­i­tat­ing en­er­gies that will dis-em­power you if you con­tinue to let th­ese thoughts oc­cupy space in your life.

If you could re­lease them, you would be health­ier. Hard as it is, it is pos­si­ble and very healthy to for­give or to be for­given. Un­for­give­ness af­fects mental, phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual health. Stud­ies on for­give­ness have shown that peo­ple who for­give are more likely than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion to expe- ri­ence fewer episodes of de­pres­sion, high blood pres­sure, fewer stress-re­lated health is­sues, bet­ter im­mune sys­tem func­tion and lower rates of heart dis­ease.

What does this mean to us as hu­man be­ings? It means that for­give­ness pro­tects against stress and ill­nesses.

Re­search stud­ies have found that, not only is for­give­ness help­ful spir­i­tu­ally, but it is also help­ful in to­tal well-be­ing and well­ness.

The act of for­give­ness can reap huge re­wards to holis­tic well-be­ing. For­give­ness en­ables low­er­ing the risk of heart at­tack; im­prov­ing choles­terol lev­els and sleep; re­duc­ing pain, blood pres­sure, and lev­els of anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and stress to men­tion just a few.

There are two forms of for­give­ness; for­giv­ing your­self and for­giv­ing oth­ers. Have you ever made a mis­take you thought was so bad that you sim­ply couldn’t for­give your­self?

You need to for­give your­self and learn to do things dif­fer­ently and not re­peat same mis­takes.

Ac­cord­ing to stud­ies, be­ing for­giv­ing to your­self and oth­ers can pro­tect you against stress and the toll it takes on mental health (Jour­nal of Health Psy­chol­ogy).So how can I for­give and how many times. Not an easy an­swer, but this is the fo­cus of this pa­per.

How many times? When Peter in the Bi­ble came up and said to Je­sus: “Lord, how of­ten will my brother sin against me, and I for­give him? As many as seven times?” Je­sus said to him: “I do not say to you seven times, but 70x7. 70x7, hwau, this just means that so long as for­give­ness shall be needed and sought: you are never to come to the point of re­fus­ing for­give­ness sin­cerely asked.

We are not to limit our for­give­ness to any fixed num­ber of times. It is sad to note that an­guish and bro­ken­ness world­wide, in our com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies have been caused by un­for­give­ness, lack of love and mercy. It has been caused by lim­it­ing for­give­ness and hold­ing on to ha­tred. So, what is the way for­ward then?

For­give your­self - Ac­cept that fail­ure that does not make you a bad per­son. When some­thing is not help­ful, change, do things dif­fer­ently and trans­form your thoughts and ac­tions.

For­give oth­ers - Re­mem­ber, whether it’s a sim­ple quar­rel with your spouse or long-held re­sent­ment to­ward a fam­ily mem­ber or friend, un­re­solved con­flict can go deeper and can be as de­struc­tive than you may ever re­al­ize. So, for­give.

For­give­ness is more than let­ting go or mov­ing on. It goes fur­ther to of­fer­ing some­thing pos­i­tive, em­pa­thy, com­pas­sion, un­der- stand­ing to­ward the per­son who hurt you. It means be­ing hon­est and ac­cept­ing your feel­ings.

Ac­cept re­quest for for­give­nessHave you strug­gled with for­giv­ing some­one? Does for­give­ness mean you for­get some­one’s ter­ri­ble acts? Does it mean you ig­nore the per­son who has harmed you in the hopes that the wrong­do­ing will sim­ply van­ish? No, not all, “for­giv­ing isn’t for­get­ting”. You will re­mem­ber and you still need to ac­cept re­quests for for­give­ness.

As to how we can do this, please check it out in the next Man­ica Post is­sue as I con­tinue with the prac­ti­cal ways of for­giv­ing one­self and for­giv­ing oth­ers. But today just know that for­give­ness makes you hap­pier and health­ier. Hold­ing on to grudges harms your health and can act as a chronic stres­sor. Un­for­give­ness can make you more vul­ner­a­ble to dis­eases and take at­ten­tion away from main­tain­ing your health and hap­pi­ness in the present.

◆ Dr. Mazvita Machinga, Ph.D is a qual­i­fied psy­chother­a­pist and mental health con­sul­tant based in Mutare. For pro­fes­sional coun­sel­ing and psy­chother­apy please call 0771 754 519 or Of­fice 0778 83 84 10 email pcc­s­man­i­ca­

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