I recently heard a sermon on forgiveness, and it got me to thinking about how integral forgiveness is to health.
Forgiveness is a necessary component to overall health. Where the confusion lies for some is who it’s healthy for.
People want forgiveness because they believe it will make them feel better about whatever they did to require forgiveness, but it’s not always the blank slate they are truly hoping for. Forgiveness isn’t a blank slate. It is wrong to commit an act, ask and receive forgiveness, and see that as an opportunity to go do it again. The old adage goes, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. ”
Forgiveness provides the most comfort and health benefits for the forgiver because it lightens his/her load. Resentment is heavy, and anger eats away at you as badly as any sickness. That weight carries over into the rest of your life until it rests on the shoulders of your entire support system.
Revenge only adds to the sickness. You might think it will make you “even,” but it’s not your right to deliver someone else’s karma. Suddenly, you’ve stooped to the level of someone you loathed. Now you have guilt from the harm you caused plus the original hurt to carry. The idea is to lighten your load, not add to it.
Of course, each unique situation varies largely on someone’s intent. Accidents happen, but they happen to some more frequently than others. Some people step on others with the best of intentions because they only consider their own personal outcome.
There are some people in life you need to keep at arms length. Forgive, forget, move on, but learn and adapt from the experience.
If you forgive someone, but there are no consequences or modifications to the situation that enabled the act in the first place, it’s like rolling out a welcome mat for it to happen again. Forgiveness heals (you can’t spell health without “heal”), but the act is a warning to protect and prevent in the future.
Sometimes you also need to forgive yourself. Apologize to others and to yourself for prior acts, but move forward. I see many people who beat themselves up for weight gain. If you are taking steps to lose unhealthy weight, stop the assault. You can only change moving forward; you can’t hit rewind.
Eat right, workout to burn off some of that hurt, forgive, and exercise your right to pursue happiness.
Actual conversation from last night:
Me: I’m trying to only have a glass of wine OR chocolate if I want a treat at night.
H: A good wife has wine AND chocolate with her husband.
Can you say spouse-pressure? Lucky for me, my husband was (half) kidding, but family intervening in healthy decisions is a larger problem than you think.
When you’re single, it’s easy to make a diet/lifestyle change, because it only affects you. The more people it affects, the more resistance you encounter.
Shockingly, even someone trying to lose weight and improve her health – changes other family support in theory – can be stopped in her path when other family members aren’t on board with how it affects them. It’s tough to stick to your guns and avoid temptation when it’s in the house, whether it’s there because you want it, or because someone else wants it.
If there is chocolate in the house, I will eat it, if there isn’t, I won’t. Period. If I decide to not have chocolate in the house, my husband can’t have any either. No chocolate for me equals no chocolate for him.
Removing processed, junky food from your diet means removing it from the house, just as going to the gym often requires encouragement from an entire household. If you are trying to eat more vegetables and hit the gym, but your partner is asking you to hangout on the couch with a bag of cheetos, he is not supporting you.
Ask your partner about his/her behavior. Maybe…
- He knows he needs to make changes, too, but doesn’t want to, so your healthy behaviors are an unfriendly reminder/suggestion to him.
- She doesn’t want you to lose weight because of the attention you’ll get. (Sad, but true story.)
- He can eat whatever he wants and not exercise, and he never gains a pound.
- She doesn’t realize she isn’t supporting you.
Making healthier choices is a lifestyle change for your entire support system. Just as people need support to fight addiction and remove negative behaviors, they also need support instigating new, positive ones. The people in our lives bring us up or down, and they aren’t always aware of it.
Make healthy behaviors a family affair, and speak up when you need better support.