Forgiveness can be tough, especially if the offense committed was something truly awful or unspeakable.
But, all the bitterness, anger and resentment can accumulate to a point where not only your mental and emotional health is impacted, but your physical health as well.
In fact, your emotional state of being can have a huge impact on your physiological state of being, due to the mind/body/spirit connection that exists in each of us. If you hold on to resentment and harbor it, your cortisol and adrenaline levels rise, which in turn raises your blood pressure, decreases your immunity and facilitates more rapid aging.
Alternately, when you let go and forgive, your body releases endorphins (feel-good hormones).
What are some ways you can forgive and let go?
Be kind to yourself, in everything that you do. You can also practice meditation; visualize the resentment floating away like clouds in the sky. The key is that you must be willing to have it lifted away.
Remember, it doesn't let the person who hurt you off the hook, but it frees YOU.
Listen in as Dr. Judith Orloff joins Andrea and Lisa to share more about the health benefits of forgiveness and letting go of resentment, as well as practical ways in which to do just that.
RadioMD Presents: Naturally Savvy | Original Air Date: April 15, 2015
Hosts: Andrea Donsky, RHN & Lisa Davis
Guest: Judith Orloff, MD
Honest information about living a healthy lifestyle on RadioMD. It's time for Naturally Savvy with natural visionary, Andrea Donsky, and health journalist, Lisa Davis, on RadioMD.com.
LISA: Being naturally savvy isn't just eating health food. It's also being aware of your emotional state of being; taking care of yourself and surrendering resentments and offering forgiveness is really good for your health.
Back with us again is the wonderful Dr. Judith Orloff. We're going to talk about surrendering resentments and why it's so important.
Dr. Orloff, welcome back.
DR ORLOFF: Thank you very much.
LISA: It's so nice to have you on. You know, forgiveness can be tough, especially if somebody did something really, really horrible especially, and not to be depressing, but I'm thinking of like childhood abuse or things like that. It's important for you to forgive, right? To heal, but not forget or how would you word that?
ANDREA: Not to forget.
LISA: Right? How do you approach that with a client or with somebody who really has been through unspeakable things?
DR ORLOFF: Yes, I know everyone knows right to unspeakable things in terms of forgiveness, but there's a whole spectrum of things to forgive, including yourself. So, in the Ecstasy of Surrender, one of the primary principles is learning how to let go of resentments and get to the grace of forgiveness because if you don't, then you've seen these people who are just are an accumulation of bitterness and resentment and anger and it makes the aging process really dismal and it also makes them miserable people. So, what I suggest to my patients and in the book, is to try and let go of resentments, not so much forgiving what the person did. For instance, if you suffered horrible abuse or your ex betrayed you, not so much that, but forgiving the suffering that caused them to do that so you can go on rather than holding on to the resentment and 20 years later, you're still talking about it. So, you don't want to be talking about it 20 years later. You want to go on with your life and being with positive, loving people.
ANDREA: It's interesting that you say that. I know someone who had a divorce probably about 20-25 years ago and they're still resentful of the person who cheated on them or whatever it is—that did them wrong. I always think or wonder how that can affect their present state of mind and also how it affects them from an emotional standpoint and physical standpoint. From what I understand, illness or things that go wrong with people, stem from an emotional state. So, how does that affect them physically when they're holding on to such anger and resentment?
DR ORLOFF: A great question. Well, there's, of course, the mind/body/spirit connection and if you're holding on to resentments and anger on a biological level, that increases your cortisol and adrenaline, your stress hormones, which increases your blood pressure, decreases immunity and increases aging.
So, as long as you hold onto it, you are pumping those stress hormones through your body which are not helping you. So, simply on a biological level, it's good to let go of resentment so you can lower your stress hormone level and get more endorphins flowing which come from forgiveness. Endorphins are the feel good hormones, the natural pain killers in the body that come when you can let something go. You know, in the Ecstasy of Surrender, I emphasize over and over and over again the ecstasy, the bliss, the happiness that comes when you can let something go. You're not tight. You're not contracted. You're flowing and you're letting it go. It could be horrible. Your ex, maybe, betrayed you with another person and it just destroyed your heart and broke your heart, but you have to move on. You see, if you don't move on and you give up on love, then you're the loser. You always have to move towards love and let go and try and see the lessons in whatever difficulties come up in life.
ANDREA: I like that you said that, too, because I do believe that when people blame other people and they play that victim that it never really helps anybody because at the end of the day, we're all responsible for whatever situations that happen, right? Of what we're attracting.
DR ORLOFF: Well, yeah. I just want to say, you are right. All these people who say, “I deserve to be angry at my ex because he betrayed me with this other woman.” You're right. You do deserve to be angry, but do you want to keep being angry? It's not about being right. It's about taking good care of yourself.
ANDREA: Exactly. Then, once you're able to let go, I think that, you know, it frees. Because at the end of the day, the other person may not have that type of anger or resentment and if you're the one holding on to it, it doesn't do anybody any good, then once you let that go, then you could be free. What are some ways that people could actually let go? Because, obviously, you know, people might be listening going, “Yeah. Okay, Dr. Orloff. It's easier said than done. What are some ways that I can actually do or strategies that I can actually release these emotions?”
DR ORLOFF: Well, self-compassion. You know? Really have a lot of compassion with yourself and what you've been through with this person. You know? And be kind to yourself and then, in meditation. Take a few deep breaths and really picture the resentment floating away like clouds in the sky. You know, give it back. Be willing to surrender it. Be willing to let it go and also, to see the suffering. You know, I tell a story in the book about the Dalai Lama. Someone went to visit him to do an interview and she had to wait in the cafe and while she was at the cafe, she saw a man beating a dog and it was just horrible. Then, she met with the Dalai Lama and said, “How do you reconcile this in your philosophy?” and he said, “I feel just as sorry for the man as I do for the dog.” So, you know, it's about deep compassion for the suffering that causes people to do things. It's magical when you can get to that level and see the suffering. It frees you. You see? It doesn't let them off the hook ,but it frees you and that's what I'm interested in teaching my patients and freeing them from resentments and even just pray and ask to have it lifted. You have to want to have it lifted. If you're stuck in being right—and you are right—I just want to say to everyone listening, you are right and you have every right to hold on to this resentment forever, but do you want to? You know? That's the issue. So, be very willing to have it be lifted. In 12-Step Programs, there's a prayer to have resentments lifted because alcoholics and addicts can't afford to hold on to resentments because it leads to drinking and using. So, it's a deep prayer, “Let me go on with my life and have a happy, beautiful life with people who can love and adore me.” You know? That kind of mantra.
LISA: You know, it was so interesting when you told that story about the Dalai Lama because I was thinking the same thing around, you know, if you can understand where somebody else is coming from and get to know more about their experiences and what happened in their life, it doesn't give them an excuse to be a jerk, but it at least opens your eyes and gives you that compassion, hopefully.
DR ORLOFF: It does.
LISA: Andrea's shaking her head. She knows what I'm talking about.
ANDREA: Yes. So, go ahead, Dr. Orloff.
DR ORLOFF: Yes. Hello.
ANDREA: Just repeat what you said. Sorry. It got cut off.
DR ORLOFF: Oh. The compassion sets you free and I want to point out the ego doesn't want to let go of resentment. The ego wants to hold on to because you're right. Just recognize that. That you're not going to find your own freedom through the ego. The ego is never going to want to let go of that resentment. You know, I have a relative who has been holding onto a resentment for, god, forty years. And she's right. You know? The thing is, she's right, but it's eating her up and the other person that she resents is already dead. You know? But, she's still holding on to the resentment and it eats you away. The resentments don't do anything for you except eat away at your health and well-being.
ANDREA: Yes. No, I totally agree with you. I think, once, you know...Like you said, it doesn't always have to be the worst of situations. It could just be, let's say you had an argument with a friend or an argument with a spouse. I mean, or a boyfriend or a girlfriend. So, I think whatever that situation is, I love that you said, be compassionate with ourselves. Let it go and free ourselves from these resentments and I think your words are of wisdom.
Of course, Dr. Orloff, we love having you on the show, but we are out of time today. I just want to let everybody know for those of you who are listening, Dr. Orloff is running a weekend workshop at the Esalen Institute in July, the weekend of July 28, on developing intuition. So, if any of you are around and can attend, I highly recommend it.
Dr. Orloff, thank you so much for being on our show today.
DR ORLOFF: Oh, thank you very much.
ANDREA: You can visit her website at DrJudithOrloff.com. I'm Andrea Donsky along with Lisa Davis. This is Naturally Savvy Radio on RadioMD.
Like us on Twitter and follow us on Facebook @ YourRadioMD and Naturally Savvy. Thanks for listening everyone. Be compassionate with yourself and forgiving.