A not so simple opinion on forgiveness

We all get hurt one way or the other. Such is life. It is the way we react that counts, or so I’ve heard. The truth is we need to forgive constantly in order to move on. In fact, we tend to forgive small things on a daily basis without even noticing. But when a major offense (or group of accumulated offenses) like abuse, serious lies, betrayal or any action resulting in a major loss comes crashing our way, the reaction is different. It may be immediate or it may take some time but we feel hurt, confused, vulnerable and  sadness, resentment and anger explodes within us.

We have a problem now, besides the offensive act commited againts us I mean. We click into survival mode and find that pain and resentment are so uncomfortable that we try with all our might to put those feelings and emotions away, bury them and forget about them. This process may last hours, days, months or years. The subsequent effort in denying what we feel may create health consequences. Now, this may not be true for some people, but for some people it is. It happens that our heart knows, our soul knows and every cell in our body knows that we are in pain and that we are unable to forgive at the moment, and our whole being acts accordingly, even if our mind says otherwise.

Permanent unforgiveness causes chronic stress. Our feelings and emotions are alive and if buried, they will try to find a way out. This chronic stress response causes our body to release cortisol and excess insulin, to say the least, which results in short term or long term health issues that may include: low immune defense system, indigestion, weight gain, inability to loose weight, excess weight loss because of malnutrition or malnourishment, headaches and even depression.

It is important to notice that forgiveness of a major offense will not take away the pain and resentment right away. Forgiveness is the switch that turns the power of healing on. Healing is a process, a slow one sometimes, which would be easier to undestand with an example of physical injury. Such may be the case of a person  riding a motorcycle when, suddenly, a newly licensed texting and driving teenager hits this person. They rush him/her to the ER and after a month in intensive care, this teen comes to see this person looking for forgiveness. This is a nice person, so compassion fills his/her heart and he/she forgives the kid. Did this person got out of the hospital the minute he/she forgave? Did the pain go away? Did the broken bones heal instantly? No. Healing will be a process of months, maybe a year or more. He/she will have scars, maybe for life and will need therapy, probably. But this person will go on and life will be good again someday because he/she is strong and just helped the recovery proccess by forgiving the kid for everything.

When a person is devastaded on the inside, the healing process may be slower than a physical one. It may take an hour, a day, a week, months even years but forgiveness always starts the healing process.

Time doesn’t heal everything, it can make it worse actually, specially if we don’t forgive. So we have to choose either to forgive, let go and start healing or to resent, hold, bury and start affecting our health. So, forgiveness becomes a self care decision. We don’t forgive for the offender, we mainly forgive for our own self. Because we should love ourselves enough to care for our own well being. Because we live once and do not want to waste away life. Because we want to help our body, soul and heart to let go and relax in order to have a good working metabolism, better health and live in the best way possible.

It is so important to take our unresolved emotional and psychological issues into account when there is a physical health problem and viceversa. Forgiveness is key, it is within our reach and it is so worth it.

Choose to be kind and grateful. 

Image from the internet.

The way we talk to ourselves

Our health is a reflection of how we talk to ourselves. It took me decades to reach this conclusion. I’m not talking about all diseases but about the mind-body stress relationship that causes an array of different symptoms even when we are “oficially” not sick via testing or a doctor’s diagnosis.

Why did it take me so long? Because first I had to re-learn that we are a whole (spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, psychological beings) and that you cannot take care of just one part of yourself and discard the others as less important. I say re-learn because we once were whole, just take a look at small children. That was before we learned to suppress feelings, emotions, pleasure in experiences  and thoughts.

We are part of a collective and  cultural subconscious. Once, Freud introduced the idea of an unconcious which guides each of us in a unique way, but this idea was incomplete. Then, Jung established the collective unconscious but the third unconscious, the cultural, together with the collective are, in my opinion, an equally powerful influence in the way we behave, the way we “should be”, the way we feel and the way we talk to ourselves.

Sometimes, (sometimes-most of the time, sometimes-seldom) we speak to ourselves in a way we will never dare speak to others. The negative self talk that continuously feeds our lives produces an almost imperceptible but chronic level of stress in our bodies that we either don’t notice anymore or try by all means to push aside and silence. It is until our bodies scream with symptoms like tension, anxiety, fatigue, no eating, binge eating, headaches, insomnia that we may begin to pay attention.

Shame, feelings of not being good enough, of not being loveable are constantly fueled by the pressure we create in our inner world by negative self talk.  This stress definitely affects our overall health: the way we feel, the way we eat and sleep, but mainly it affects the way we metabolize.

It is not easy. It takes months, persistence and baby steps to realize that the way we talk to ourselves is so powerful that our health depends on it. To realize that you can be your best positive influence or the worst self-abuser forces oneself to choose which path to follow: nourishment and peace or self destruction.

I made the choice long ago: baby steps, persistence and patience to change the neurological patterns and connections that such negative self-talk had strengthened. Practicing self-compassion, self-care and being open to constantly evolve through new tools have been the way to peace, true healing and health.

Choose to be kind and grateful.

Image from the internet.