Wellness Family Dentistry

Forgiveness and Living Free!

October 30, 2022
Posted By: Magna Porterfield, PhD. (Psychologist)

Are you harboring anger or bitterness in your life?  Is there someone who has hurt you deeply (or maybe not so deeply) toward whom you feel resentful?  If you honestly answer “yes” to either of these questions, then you may want to think about doing something that would be challenging but also freeing – forgive.  


Some may ask the question, what is forgiveness? A simple definition is that it is a process where a person treated in a wrong way makes the decision to let go of their resentment or bitterness and treat the wrongdoer with compassion. Now, it is important to know that forgiveness does not mean that you condone the wrong action (or actions) of that person. Sometimes it may not even be good to get back in a relationship with the wrongdoer, especially if they continue with behavior that is destructive. You can acknowledge that a person’s acton is not acceptable or justifiable.  But, while doing that you can choose to let go of your anger and feelings of vengeance toward them, which involves forgiveness.  


For some, the thought of extending compassion to someone who hurt them is unthinkable and maybe even sounds impossible. It is true that forgiveness is not easy. However, forgiveness is not something that is done for the benefit of the wrongdoer, but for the benefit of the person who has been mistreated. There is a saying that goes like this: “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison hoping that the other person will die.”  In other words, when we choose not to forgive and hold on to resentment, we are not getting back at those who hurt us but are actually hurting our own selves. On the other hand, when we choose to forgive and let go of our resentment or bitterness toward the person who has harmed us, we are benefitted in many ways – physically, emotionally, socially, and even spiritually.



So, what are some of the benefits of forgiveness?  Here are a few:


  1. Forgiveness reduces stress, which leads to a decrease of mental health symptoms.
  2. People who forgive tend to become emotionally stronger and increasingly optimistic.
  3. Even thinking about forgiving an offender can improve one’s cardiovascular and nervous system.
  4. When you forgive, it can lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attacks. 
  5. Forgiveness sustains relationships. This is  because it prevents us from holding a grudge, which can lead to distrust and damage relationship.
  6.  People who forgive tend to be kinder and feel more connected to others. These are just some examples of how forgiveness can be beneficial to our overall health. Forgiveness is a choice and leads to freedom – freedom from being enslaved to anger, grudges and other related emotions  For many, that choice is not easy and in some cases may require more than human power (which for many means asking God for help). Whatever the case may be, if you choose today to begin the process of forgiveness, you will never regret it. Just remember, you can live a more free, full life just by choosing to forgive!  






  1. Touissaint, L, et al. (Oct. 2016) Forgiveness, Stress and Health: A 5 Week Dynamic Parallel Process study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 727-735.
  2. Luskin, F. (2003). Forgive for good. New York, NY: Harper One.
  3. Van Oyen Witvliet, C., et al. (2001) Granting forgiveness or harboring grudges: Implications for emotion, physiology, and health. Psychological Science, 12( (2), 117-123.
  4. Forgiveness: Your Health Depends on It. (2022). John Hopkins University.
  5. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of Berkeley. (2022).

Photo by: Ivo Silva




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