The Science of Forgiveness

The Science of Forgiveness

Forever Eliminate Fear, Anxiety, Dis-Ease & Physical Malady From Body & Your Life

Everyday we are bombarded with endless ways and options on how to feel better, lose weight, gain more energy, detox, reduce and eliminate stress, fear and anxiety from our lives and prevent diseases from occurring within us. There is so much information available to us, it leaves most of us feeling overwhelmed, confused and searching for true answers to these very valuable and life-changing questions. Almost all solutions are external and yet, we are left with a strange feeling that the answer we've been given will not last - a deep knowing that it is not complete and true. Have you ever felt that way?

Many of us have taken the right path and have made incredible lifestyle changes towards better health and wellness. Some of which include more basic changes like our altering our eating habits, going to bed earlier, reducing screen time and exercising and reading more often to name a few. Others are more deep and include meditation and prayer, taking time and much needed effort to analyze and shift our paradigms, choosing how we emotionally connect with others and even assessing our relationships and perhaps making better decisions as to who to spend our time with.

But, how do we get there? 
There is no doubt that facts are an invaluable resource which enable us to make good decisions. But with all the misinformation readily available for us to digest, how do we know what to believe? How do you know truth when you hear it? The truth is this:

"If you don't recognize truth when you hear it, no one can help you."

We are God's highest creation and we were designed with the ability to discern truth from lies. Yet, we have all made decisions that have left us feeling uneasy, unsettled and not confident. Regardless of how much effort anyone of us has put toward eating better and exercising daily or deeply analyzing our paradigms to observe our habitual behavior, UN-forgiveness is the ultimate and lasting disease of the heart that has but only one cure - forgiveness of self and of others.

"The powerfully incredible and freeing first step of curing oneself from any physical malady is so easily understood but sadly, very rarely applied, and is what is truly preventing anyone of us from physical and spiritual healing, joy, success and peace in literally every area of our lives."

When you Forgive You Release

“When you don’t forgive you release all the chemicals of the stress response”

Dr. Robert Enright, a developmental psychologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. began contemplating forgiveness back in the mid-eighties. As a Christian, he’d been raised on Jesus’ teachings about tolerance and forgiveness. He asked himself: Could forgiveness help patients in a clinical setting? In spite of skeptical colleagues who ridiculed him for applying science to something so “mushy” and “religious,” he designed forgiveness interventions for therapy and studied their psychological and physiological impacts.

He began by developing therapies aimed at helping elderly women to forgive those who had wronged them in the past, and to help victims of abuse and incest to understand their tormentors without justifying the abusers’ actions. His initial findings were encouraging. His first study, which compared women undergoing forgiveness therapy with a control group who underwent therapy for emotional wounds without a forgiveness focus, found that the experimental group improved more in emotional and psychological health measures than the control group. It was published in the journal Psychotherapyin 1993. Afterward, Enright honed his therapeutic forgiveness tools, from helping people develop empathy—the ability to understand and share the feelings of another—toward aggressors, to learning to forgive and accept themselves, and tested them on a range of groups. Among battered women and “parental love–deprived college students,” for instance, those subject to forgiveness therapy showed more improvement in emotional and psychological health than control groups who received therapy without a forgiveness focus.

Enright’s forgiveness model has four parts: uncovering your anger, deciding to forgive, working on forgiveness, and discovery and release from emotional prison

Uncovering anger means examining how you’ve both avoided and dealt with it, and exploring how the offense and resulting anger has changed your health, worldview, and life in general. The phase involves learning about what forgiveness is and what it’s not, acknowledging that the ways you’ve dealt with your anger up until now haven’t worked, and setting the intention to forgive. Next, working on forgiveness entails confronting the pain the offense has caused and allowing yourself to experience it fully, then working toward developing some level of understanding and compassion for the offender. The final phase includes acknowledging that others have suffered as you have and that you’re not alone, examining what possible meaning your suffering could have for your life (learning a particular life lesson, perhaps contributing to one’s strength or character, or prompting one to help others), and taking action on whatever you determine to be your life purpose.

Since developing that therapy model and pioneering the first studies, Enright and his colleagues have found positive results in drug rehabilitation participants (less anger, depression, and need for drugs compared to the control group receiving standard therapy), victims of domestic violence (decreased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder relative to the control group), and terminally ill cancer patients (more hope for the future and less anger than the control group).

When it comes to determining the existence of a causal relationship between forgiveness and physical health, Enright says the most definitive study he has done was conducted with a team of researchers on cardiac patients. Published in 2009 in the journal Psychology & Health, their analysis found that when cardiac patients with coronary heart disease underwent forgiveness therapy, the rate of blood flow to their hearts improved more than that of the control group, which received only standard medical treatment and counseling about diet and exercise. “It wasn’t that they were cured—these were patients with serious heart problems,” Enright says. “But they were at less risk of pain and sudden death.” Those results echo studies by Charlotte Witvliet, a psychology professor at Hope College; and Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, and author of numerous books on happiness, which found that people who forgive more readily have fewer coronary heart problems than those who hold grudges.

Perhaps the most comprehensive body of evidence showing links between forgiveness and health focuses on mood, says Dr. Frederic Luskin, the cofounder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, an ongoing series of workshops and research studies at Stanford University. Researchers who measure emotional and psychological health outcomes following therapy that includes forgiveness are quantifying patients’ levels of anger, anxiety, and depression, concluding in multiple studies that forgiveness elevates mood and increases optimism, while not forgiving is positively correlated with depression, anxiety, and hostility. Like Enright, Luskin has developed ways to teach forgiveness in various places and with various groups, including war-ravaged populations in countries such as Northern Ireland and Sierra Leone, and he asserts that anyone—from jilted spouses to widows who have lost husbands to terrorism—can heal.

Luskin developed a weeklong “forgiveness training” delivered in a group setting. In it, he leads participants through a series of discussions and exercises. The first steps involve tearing apart what he calls “your grievance story,” which is usually formed by taking something personally that wasn’t necessarily personal, and then blaming someone for your feelings. His argument is that when you blame someone for how you feel instead of holding them to account for their actions, you keep yourself stuck in victim-hood and inaction (resenting your ex for her drinking and destructive behavior, for instance, instead of just seeking a restraining order). Luskin has participants “find the impersonal in the hurt” by realizing how many other people have experienced a similar offense or disappointment and how common it is, as well as acknowledging that most offenses are committed without the intention of hurting anyone personally. (If your mother yelled at you, for example, she likely did so not because her goal was to hurt your feelings and forever damage your self-confidence, but because she was stressed or afraid.) This doesn’t negate that often there is a personal aspect to an offense, Luskin says, but it can lessen the pain and blame.

“When you don’t forgive you release all the chemicals of the stress response,” Luskin says. “Each time you react, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine enter the body. When it’s a chronic grudge, you could think about it twenty times a day, and those chemicals limit creativity, they limit problem-solving. Cortisol and norepinephrine cause your brain to enter what we call ‘the no- thinking zone,’ and over time, they lead you to feel helpless and like a victim. When you forgive, you wipe all of that clean.”

Freedom of Forgiveness

One last thing.

Forgiveness is mainly for your benefit, not for the benefit of the person you are forgiving. As long as you are feeling like a victim, you are carrying a heavy burden. Forgiveness allows you to put the burden down, and simply walk away from it. Forgiveness is a free gift! Free to give and to receive and leads to purification of the spirit. Forgiveness eliminates any and all fear, anxiety, depression, ALL dis-ease, and physical malady from your body and your life.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” Matthew 18:21-22

Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 
2 Cor 2:7

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