Could Forgiveness Improve Your Health?

Julie Bitely

| 2 min read

Carrying around mental baggage from past slights and grievances could literally be making you sick, according to Reverend Dr. Michael Barry.
“A lot of us drag around a lot of stuff,” he said.
Barry is an ordained pastor who joined the Cancer Treatment Centers of America as their Director of Pastoral Care at Eastern Regional Medical Center when it opened in 2005. He’s the author of “The Forgiveness Project,” and he spoke at a Faith in Wellness kickoff luncheon in Grand Rapids recently.
Reverend Dr. Michael Barry speaking at a recent Faith in Wellness luncheon in Grand Rapids. Photo credit: Julie Bitely
Reverend Dr. Michael Barry speaking at a recent Faith in Wellness luncheon in Grand Rapids.
Photo credit: Julie Bitely
Barry said holding on to anger creates a perpetual fight or flight response in the body. If you’re constantly producing stress hormones to deal with your feelings, your body could be diverting energy away from other important functions such as immune system response, digestion, cell repair and sleep.
“The relationship between our minds and our bodies is profound,” he said.
Barry urged luncheon attendees to become students of forgiveness. Just as you would go to the doctor to treat a wound or physical ailment, emotional wounds also need attention and treatment. He said while they might be harder to overcome, the journey and process of forgiving and moving on is worth it.
“We don’t realize what a burden anger and hatred is … until you let it go,” he said.
Finding empathy for the person who hurt you and deciding to forgive is the first step, Barry said.
“You can find healing for emotional wounds, but it takes effort,” he said.
Do you live with a mantra of ‘forgive and forget’? What are your secrets to letting go of anger and moving on? Share with us in the comments.
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