Forgiveness — do it

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

That new CNA ran over your foot with the med cart. Someone else is getting the promotion you expected. A resident's family member said horrible things about you. A coworker stole your shift — and your husband. 

Yes, it hurts. Yes, you deserved that new job. Yes, what she said was untrue. Yes, you're going to miss your husband. But now that we've established you were right and they were all very, very wrong, it's time to forgive. Now. For the good of your health. 

Forgiveness doesn't come easy. At least not as easy as righteous indignation, anger and the desire for revenge. But those negative emotions are the Krispy Kreme donuts of the mind — they might taste good while they're in your mouth, but you never take a bite of revenge and think later, “I'm sure glad I ate that.” 

Holding onto grudges and grievances is like being an air traffic controller watching planes circle on your screen, for years sometimes, but they never land, says Fred Luskin, Ph.D., author of “Forgive for Good.” Forgiveness lets them settle safely to earth, freeing your brain for more important things. It reclaims your power from those who hurt you. 

And it might even prolong your life. Studies seem to show that forgiveness can lessen stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate, boost the immune system, reduce depression and increase overall happiness. Not a bad return on investment.

So why is it so hard for us to forgive? It doesn't need to be.

“Forgiveness is a choice,” says Luskin. “We can choose either to remain stuck in the pain and frustration of the past or move on to the potential of the future.”

But what about accountability for that foot-rolling CNA, clueless boss, evil family member or back-stabbing coworker? Just let it go. Forgiveness is something you do for you, not for them. They've already hurt you. Do they really deserve to steal your health and happiness, too? 

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