Healing power of forgiveness


The Hatfields and McCoys, rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, even Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Epic grudges that led to news headlines at the least, violence, at the worst.

Unlike a celebrity grudge match, our tiffs aren't usually public, but they can destroy our health.

Karen Swartz, MD, Psychiatrist and Professor at Johns Hopkins University told Ivanhoe, "If you're angry, and in an angry state, you're essentially in fight or flight mode."

Swartz says of all her research topics, talks she gives on love and forgiveness draw the biggest crowds.

"By being able to do forgiveness, it's very much like being able to do stress management," Swartz told Ivanhoe.

Swartz says research shows the act of forgiving someone can lower your blood pressure, and decrease your heart rate. People who forgive take fewer over-the-counter medications.

Swartz says the first step is to identify your grudge-holding style. People who live in the moment are more likely to forgive.

"There are some people that just really live in the past, get stuck in the past, and they're at risk of being in that grudge state," Swartz told Ivanhoe.

Swartz suggests WICC. Work on relaxation techniques. Identify what the problem is. Challenge your own responses. And finally, change your thoughts from negative to positive.

A positive outlook makes you ready to let it go.  Swartz says it's important to remember when you forgive, you're not saying what the other person did was okay. You're saying you no longer want to put energy into it.