A Forgiving Heart
Monday, April 06, 2015
As I deal with piles of old magazines recently unearthed from storage...I am finding interesting bits of info. This is from Better Homes and Gardens May 2006 page 262, 264
A Forgiving Heart
Does your blood boil every time you see the next-door neighbor who chopped down a magnificent oak tree that shaded your deck for years? You may want to let it go. A growing body of evidence suggests that forgiving others may be good for your own heart. A recent study at the University of Tennessee shows that forgiveness can lower blood pressure and heart rate. "Holding a grudge is hard work; it places a lot of demand on the heart," says Kathleen Lawler-Row, a psychology professor. "Choosing to forgive an offender reduces anger, depression, and anxiety, all of which affect cardiovascular health."
Another study of couples with troubled marriages found higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in those who said they could not forgive their spouses over an issue or problem, says the study's author, Everett L. Worthington Jr., a psychology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and executive director of A Campaign for Forgiveness Research.
Dr. Richard A. Stein, director of preventive cardiology at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, and an American Heart Association spokesman, discusses this mind-body connection in his new book, Outliving Heart Disease. One of the guidelines he gives for preventing and treating heart disease is to know how thoughts and feelings affect health. Negative emotions may promote hardening of the arteries and even trigger a heart attack. Stein says that reducing hostility, anger, stress, and depression can lower the occurrence of cardiac problems.
Forgiveness, alas, doesn't always come easily. One method, developed by Worthington, uses the acronym REACH to teach people how to forgive. How it works:
*Recall the Hurt. Try to remember the hurt objectively without feeling victimized.
*Empathize with the person who hurt you. Try to understand the other person's perspective and feel compassion toward the offender.
*Altruism. realize we are all alike in that we have hurt others, too. When we are forgiven, we experience freedom and gratitude. Give the gift of forgiveness to the person with whom you now empathize.
*Commit publicly to forgive. Forgiveness becomes real when you say it aloud or write it in a letter rather than keep it private (you don't have to deliver the letter.)
*Hold onto forgiveness. When painful memories resurface, it doesn't mean you're still holding a grudge. Remind yourself that you've forgiven that person and have moved. on.