Unforgiveness negatively impacts our relationships, our wellbeing, and our health. Research has found that unforgiveness keeps our brains on high alert by releasing the stress hormone cortisol into our bodies even when there is no threat. While cortisol is important in helping us respond to danger, allowing us to fight, flee or freeze, the constant release of this hormone is unhealthy, causing anxiety, depression, heart disease, memory impairment, digestive problems {and other complications}.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself

and waiting for the other person to die.”

– Marianne Williamson

1. Acknowledge the hurt

We must be willing to admit that we have a wound to receive healing. Trying to bury the overwhelming or negative emotions that come with hurt is pointless because the hurt stays alive in your memory.

Acknowledge any anger, feelings of bitterness, hatred or sadness associated with the situation. Acknowledging the hurt allows you to grieve for the relationship that was lost or damaged, the confidence that was stolen and the feelings that were bruised.

2. Talk about it

Acknowledging the hurt may happen at a personal level, but it is also helpful to seek out a therapist or a trustworthy friend who is willing to listen and help you process the events that caused you the hurt. By talking to a therapist, one is able to receive an objective perspective and the tools to allow one to grow and heal from the negative emotions attached to unforgiveness.

Journaling can also be a powerful tool that allows you to express negative feelings with no fear of shame or reproof.

3. Time and God

The beautiful thing about how God created the brain is that it can change and heal itself by creating new neural pathways. When we receive new information about a situation, we can train our brains with healing messages that change our perspective.

It’s important to note that the memory of the event will remain, but God can heal the pain attached to it. Choose to forgive every time the memory comes up.

4. Forgiveness and reconciliation

Forgiveness does not always equal reconciliation. Some situations require one to move far away from the person who has hurt or harmed them, especially if there are cycles of abuse.

Wisdom dictates that we should be good stewards of our mental health and hearts.