Guest Post by Dr. Sherry Pietrzykoski, Senior Instructor, Counseling and Human Development

Part 4 of a 6 part series on Coping with Stress

This week’s science of stress relieving topic is going to be a bit controversial.  Why, because it is all about forgiveness.

According to Tom Valeo (2007), “If you can bring yourself to forgive and forget, you are likely to enjoy lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a drop in the stress hormones circulating in your blood, studies suggest. Back pain, stomach problems, and headaches may disappear. And you'll reduce the anger, bitterness, resentment, depression, and other negative emotions that accompany the failure to forgive.”¹

So how do we accomplish this? First, let go of it. You may not or have had the best childhood. Can you change anything about the way you were treated as a child? Then why hang on to any anger or hurt? Is it helping you be a more productive adult or is it making you unhappy?  Is all that anger and resentment making you a better person? You may never be OK with the harm that was done to you or what life has thrown you but if you can’t change anything why let it keep affecting the person you are? If you do the person(s) who hurt you are still winning.

Second be thankful for what you have. What? Yes, you may not drive the fanciest car, have all the name brand clothing, or live in the best part of town but things could be worse. At least you have a car that gets you from point A to point B; you could be walking or riding the bus.  Be grateful you have clothes on your back and have a place to live, you could be homeless.

So what do the experts tell us to do to get rid of anger hurt, disappointment? How do we forgive and forget? We are going to what is known as REACHing for forgiveness.

Recall the hurt objectively. Get over the self-victimization and blame
E
mpathize with the person who hurt you. What was that person going through?
A
ltruistically think about a time you have been forgiven. Have you ever hurt someone?
C
ommit to the act of forgiving.
H
old on to forgiveness.

What do you think about this concept? Can it work? Would you be willing to give it a try? Is it there any reason to forgive and forget? Have you?

Reference:

¹ Valeo, Tom. (2007). Forgive and Forget: It's not always easy, but the benefits of forgiving -- and 'forgetting' -- can be powerful. Here are some tips. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/forgive-forget

Read our earlier posts about stress here:

Coping with Stress with Exercise (Part 1 of 6)

Coping with Stress with Yoga (Part 2 of 6)

Coping with Stress with Laughter (Part 3 of 6)