We are born of spirit, connected to spirit, to God. We come out of the womb, crying, immediately realizing we are separated, separated from God, dependent on people who do not have a guidebook to teach us, lead us, to care for us. Many of these people may love us, but what is love? It is different to everyone here on earth. It’s not the same love as when we are in the spirit world, is it? It’s usually not the non-judgmental, unconditional love for which we all yearn. It is muddled love. Love with conditions. Love with expectations. Love with neediness. This kind of love is messy, mucky, and marvelously challenging.
We are often taught weird things about self love. For example, don’t be conceited, selfish, egotistical, don’t tell everyone you feel good about something you’ve done, accomplished or created. Play small, don’t be noticed, don’t stand out too much! Your smile is too big, your energy is too big, don’t cause trouble, keep your mouth shut, be a good girl, be a brave boy, don’t talk back, don’t stand up for yourself. If you are a child of abuse, you are taught that something is wrong with YOU. Apologize when you’ve done nothing wrong. Walk on eggshells. Watch out, others want to hurt you, don’t trust strangers. Basically, the world is a dangerous place. Watch out. And by the way, the people who love you the most just might be the ones to screw you up the most. As I said, we are not given a guidebook and how we were parented often was learned by our parent’s parents, and so forth.
From the day we are born, self love and actualization (our true soul’s goals) are combated by the forces of people who don’t love themselves and thus can never really teach us how to love ourselves. And then we spend 30, 40, 50 + years trying to find ourselves, the nuggets of love that we truly were when we were born. We spend a lifetime trying to wipe clean the slate of crap that was placed upon us from the time we were little children.
I wish I could remember what that unconditional love feels like. All the people who have had NDE’s (near death experiences) talk about feeling that love, and it often makes them not want to come back to earth. They want to stay bathed in that love.
What does this have to do with Health? What does this have to do with Forgiveness? What does this have to do with Love?
You know how we love our children? It’s the closet thing we know to unconditional love, yet, we still have expectations, judgments, theories. But with them, we love enough that when they make what we consider big mistakes, we are able to forgive. I think that is the closest we get to unconditional love, forgiving our children, overlooking what we consider their imperfections.
Whether you took on the belief that we are all born sinners (you know that whole getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden story) or that we take on a disempowering core belief such as “I’m not good enough” or “there is something wrong with me,” recovery is necessary.
What happens when we hold onto these core limiting beliefs? First, we try hard to answer those questions, what’s wrong with me, how am I bad, how am I a sinner, etc. We spend our lives focused on what is wrong rather than on what is right.
If you are having trouble releasing that “I’m not good enough” negative self talk, check out the Gremlins and Gratitude class.
Here is an easy analogy. YOU look great, feel great, getting ready to go out. You look in the mirror and there is a big pimple on your nose. NOW, all you can think about is this pimple on your nose. Feeling and looking great went out the window. So it is with our thoughts, our belief systems. If we believe we are flawed, then we are going to have flawed lives. One of my favorite sayings is by Henry Ford, “whether you think you can do a thing or not, you are right.”
When we hold onto these beliefs, that something is wrong with us, it causes stress in our system. Imagine someone with very black and white thinking, someone who is always trying to do the right thing because they feel they are internally flawed, so they walk on eggshells trying to get it right. Oh, is that you? You might see it under the umbrella of being a perfectionist, or you may put everything off and have a “to do” list that never ends because you are a procrastinator. For some people, taking action never happens because they can’t trust their own decisions.
Can you find yourself in here? Do you know the people I’m talking about?
Many spiritual people are seekers, always looking for the answers. They look outside themselves because of course they are not good enough, maybe others who are better, great authors, motivational speakers, actors, richer, handsomer, better business people, have the answers.
The search causes stress.
Feeling ‘less than’ causes stress.
Wanting to be good enough for other’s causes stress.
Comparing ourselves to others causes stress.
Trying to please others causes stress.
Procrastination causes stress.
Decision-making causes stress.
AND holding onto hurt, anger, bitterness, feelings of retaliation causes stress.
And what happens when our body is stressed out? Your brain tells your body to go into fight or flight mode. When that happens, our adrenals pump out cortisol, the immune system shuts down and all non-essential body functions shut down. Your heart rate is increased. If your immune system is not working properly, it can not protect you against disease.
Over time, with chronic stress, you start noticing health problems, such as more colds, heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases and even cancers.
The good news is that we know that there are ways to deal with stress, and research supports these life-style changes, such as meditation, yoga, aerobic exercise, being out in nature, counseling, changing belief systems. Unfortunately, many wait until these diseases set in and then they have the WAKE-UP call. Research is also supporting the fact that FORGIVENESS reduces stress.
When we find the answers, we are often faced with the knowledge that we had them inside of us all along. If God is inside of me, then the truth, the love, the compassion, the grace, the ability to forgive, must truly be inside of me too. How do I access that?
 The Forgiveness Project, in cooperation with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, has stated that Cancer, and other life-altering diseases, can benefit from forgiveness. For many patients, they live in a state of chronic unforgiveness – a holding onto anger, hate and resentment. When that is released, they found that immune systems are enhanced tremendously.
Don Colbert, M.D., in his book, Deadly Emotions, says that when chronic anger is present, the body has a steady drip of the hormone cortisol. This excessive presence of cortisol can cause the immune system to become confused and to attack itself, causing autoimmune diseases. This increased level of cortisol can also contribute to diabetes, weight gain, bone loss, impaired memory and other health problems.
In The Healing Connection, Harold Koenig, M.D., writes “[t]he research indicates those who can’t get past these hurt and angry feelings of spiritual discontent may soon be in big trouble in terms of their emotional and physical health.”
The Virginia Commonwealth University found that Forgiveness can strengthen your immune system.
The University of Maryland Institute of Human Virology found Forgiveness lowers the stress hormone cortisol and the immune system is boosted.
Stanford University Center for Research in Disease Prevention found, “[w]hen you hold onto the bitterness for years, it stops you from living your life fully. As it turns out, it wears out your immune system and hurts your heart.” Fred Luskin, PhD, Director of the Forgiveness Project at Stanford University said, “[s]tress exacerbates pain, tightens muscles and interferes with the smooth running of the immune system – all things that have an effect on arthritis.” He said “[p]eople think they have this unlimited storage of anger, judgment and hostility that will never come home to roost, but it comes home immediately.”
A Duke University Medical Center study said that those who forgive others experience lower levels of chronic pain and less associated psychological problems like anger and depression than those who have not forgiven.
Interestingly, on the Mayo Clinic Website, there are three articles on Forgiveness under health. The professionals are definitely recognizing the connections that have long been recognized by spiritual and religious factions, that forgiveness has definite ramifications on mental, physical and spiritual well-being.