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Reduce stress and anger through this simple act

Tracy Woolrich's picture
The answer to anger is forgiveness

A study from the Journal of Behavioral Medicine has found forgiveness to be associated with stress reduction and lower heart rates and blood pressure. The long-term health benefits from this both physically and emotionally are phenomenal. Why be angry, when you can forgive?

I find that forgiveness is the way you can cut the cord that binds you to the people who you perceive as causing you anger and pain. It can allow the consequences of their behavior be between them and their higher power. That is where it belongs anyhow and it relieves you from the duty of judging them. Otherwise the vicious circle of judgment and pain and anger will continue.

Holding a grudge and the anger associated with it is energetically like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. You end up causing physical and emotional injury to yourself and it inhibits your ability to express yourself in a meaningful way. It is much like emotional stuttering! It keeps you from expressing yourself in the way you intended.

Men versus women
The University of Washington School of Nursing, analyzed anger between husbands and wives. Researchers found that wives experienced a greater chance of becoming depressed when there was anger in the relationship. Husbands however experienced more physical ailments. They both experienced the same emotional state of anger within the relationship however with completely different outcomes.

There are physical and emotional reactions to stressful and anger producing situations. One such reaction is the release of the hormone cortisol. This can cause a plethora of issues from reduced immunity to slower wound healing and the dreaded increase in fat production.

A study from Ohio State University, found that individuals who had anger control issues healed more slowly from their wounds. In a study of 98 participants, researchers found that after a week, those who had anger management issues were slower to heal. In addition, as expected, they also had higher cortisol levels in their blood.

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Harvard School of Public Health discovered that men with higher level of hostility also had poorer pulmonary functioning and an accelerated decline as they aged. I suppose grumpy old men do not age well.

The answer is forgiveness
There is an answer to anger and that answer is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not the same as pardoning. It does not mean that the situation or other person’s action is okay. It also does not mean that you have to feel that what happened is justified. Nor does it mean that you absolve the person for their actions. That is an act of pardoning. It also does not mean that your viewpoint has changed in any way. You may still feel unjustly hurt.

Forgiveness simply means that you recognize that the past cannot be changed. It is the release of the past and living in the now moment. It is the cutting of the cord that binds the two of you that I mentioned earlier. Letting go of the anger and energy ties that bind you to other person or situation can be an empowering act. It allows you to reclaim your power and control of your own actions and behavior. The past can no longer effect your present.

Still not buying it? Think of it this way. You can sit around stewing about a situation and the person with whom you are angry with can be entirely oblivious to your pain. The fact that you hated what they have done can cause you physical pain and inhibit your ability to effectively carry on the business of your heart. Yet it didn’t impact their lives in the very least. They continued to enjoy their relationships and activities without giving a single thought about your life or feelings. Once you realize the insanity in that and discover the only person you are harming is you it should give you the motivation to deal with it.

Time to change
It may be time to make some changes. One is asking yourself, if is it more important to be right or at peace? Are you afraid that if you work through it and forgive, that the same thing might happen again and you might have to deal with it again? Are you living in a world of “what ifs”?
Don’t live in the past and don’t worry about the future. Deal with the here and now.

Take home message
All that you perceive to be happening in your life has a purpose. This holds true for the good, the bad and in the in between. Things truly do happen for a reason although we may not know why at the time. The lesson in it all is how we react and learn to deal with over time.

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”Robert Muller

1. Worthington EL, et al. Forgiveness, health, and well being: A review of evidence for emotional versus decisional forgiveness, dispositional forgiveness, and reduced unforgiveness. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2007;30:291.
2. Carrére S, Mittmann A, Woodin E, Tabares A, Yoshimoto D. Anger dysregulation, depressive symptoms, and health in married women and men. Nursing Research, May-June 2005.
3. Gouin JP, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Malarkey WB, Glaser R. The influence of anger expression on wound healing. Brain, Behavior and Immunity December 8, 2007.
4. Kubzansky LD, Sparrow D, Jackson B, Cohen S, Weiss ST, Wright RJ. Angry breathing: A prospective study of hostility and lung function in the Normative Aging Study. Thorax, October 2006.