According to renowned cardiologist Herbert Benson, there is something called the physiology of forgiveness. Being unable to forgive another person's faults is harmful to your health. As recently as a few years ago, it would have been difficult to find much information on the physiology of forgiveness. Although the field is admittedly new, it has grown exponentially over the past decade with more than 1,200 published studies.
Studies have shown that there is psychology and physiology at the root of forgiveness. An unwillingness to forgive has been linked with a variety of health hazards and negative consequences, including the following.
• Increased stress levels and muscle tension.
• Increased blood pressure and heart rate.
• Increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
• Suppressed immune function.
• Increased risk for depression, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
• Decreased neurological function and memory.
• Impaired relationships at home and at work.
On the flip side, studies have revealed the power of forgiveness in a number of beneficial ways, including the following.
• Healthier relationships.
• Greater mental, physical and spiritual health.
• Less anxiety, stress and hostility.
• Lower blood pressure.
• Fewer symptoms of depression
• Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse.
• Making room for compassion, kindness and peace.
"In fact," I told Jaylee, "it appears that the one who forgives tends to benefit more than the one who is forgiven." Jaylee would have none of it. Rising from the chair, she painfully made her way toward the door. "I will think about it and let you know," were her parting words.
Unforgiveness is one of the problems individuals grapple with in life. According to Father Al Lauer, founder of Presentation Ministries, his belief at time of ordination was that about half of all problems were due to unforgiveness. Ten years later, he estimated that at least three quarters of all health, marital and family problems stemmed from unforgiveness. After more than twenty years in ministry, he concluded that over 90 percent of all problems are rooted in issues related to unforgiveness. How Do I Stop Holding A Grudge About Everything?