What Happens to the Brain When You Forgive Someone Who Hurt You Emotionally
Healing begins by acknowledging the fact that you have been hurt; that yes, someone damaged you in a way you did not deserve to be treated. Then the next step is to come to terms with the hurt, the damage and moving on from it. But how does one move on from betrayal?
Well, the simplest and tested method is by forgiving the person who hurt you.
Read about Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger, co-authors of the book, South of Forgiveness. The story is controversial beyond measure, but in the end speaks of the power of forgiveness.
Besides every major thinker has spoken about its power, from Gandhi to M.L King Jr. and the Buddha.
The benefits of forgiveness are two-fold. It is a bipartite healing process; your mind heals and your body heals alongside.
Here, we have tried to enlist some of the benefits of forgiveness; some physical and some mental:
The Physical Benefits:
1. Smoother blood flow:
Psychology Today reported how after receiving forgiveness therapy after having heart surgery, patients reportedly experienced better blood flow to their hearts. The frames of comparison were standard medical procedures.
2. Lesser coronary problems:
Witvliev and Lybomirsky reported how people who let go of things in a Zen way are less prone to have troubles of the heart than people who hold on to grudges. Talk about metaphors becoming literal.
Before we go on to the actual mental and emotional benefits of forgiveness, let’s look at some of the problems or impairments that one sees in people who hold grudges:
Hopelessness of existence:
It is known that holding on to toxic things can slowly lead to numbing of existence. You cease to feel alive, despite breathing. Depression, panic and anxiety is only a step or two away from this.
The debilitating effects of stress and grudges:
After being flooded by so much cortisol and other stress hormones, your body and mind just become immune to them. It becomes difficult for you to cope with any kind of stress because your brain isn’t sensitive enough to its effects.
This affects your cognitive abilities and your memory too. You start to fail when real information needs to be processed at a shorter time in real life. Your memory too starts to fail, especially in the short term.
Increase in sensitivity:
When a pathway is defined in your brain, it is very difficult to erase it: now imagine a pathway to a scene in your mind where you are suffering. It is a Devil’s circle.
Now for the benefits of letting go of your grudge:
This is something that the world is in dire need of at this moment; with people dying every day in ways that are preventable and animals losing their lives to corporate greed.
Letting go of toxic things makes your brain open to the real problems of the world.
2. Having more integrity
The frontal cortex is the centre of morality and ethics in our body too. By freeing it, you make it available for feelings of honesty and integrity, which are traits essential for a strong character.
Forgiveness, empathy and feelings are very human traits that make a person happier with their existence because of the universality of the experience.
So let go and be happy.