Forgiveness Is Actually Good For Your Body


 A couple days ago, I was scrolling through Instagram double tapping cute puppies and funny food memes when I came across a quote by the late and brilliant Maya Angelou.

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive.”

I must have read it 20 different times because wowwww, it hit me right in the chest.

The truth is, forgiveness is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve been burned pretty badly in the past and hurt by people I thought I could trust. I’ve had relationships turn sour in ways that totally broke my heart. And it always, always sucks.

But despite it all, I believe in forgiveness.

Here’s the thing about forgiveness, it’s really hard. It requires serious workkkk. And the process can be SUPER painful. But it’s worth it. Your body and mind will benefit in the long run.

I’m not just being dramatic right now — did you know it’s actually HEALTHY to forgive? Holding onto resentment and anger can cause physical changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and the immune response. Also, the inability to forgive has been linked to higher cortisol levels — a big contributor to stubborn belly fat.

Okay, so right now you might be thinking, easier said than done, Cassey. And you’re totally right. So what IS forgiveness?

Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, describes forgiveness as “an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings whether the person deserves it or not.”

See, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean everything goes back to the way it was. You aren’t letting someone off the hook for what they’ve done or erasing blame. You’re choosing to let it go anyway. And you know what’s so awesome about forgiveness. It’s in YOUR control. You get that power. And no one can take it from you.

That’s what makes that quote by Maya Angelou so powerful. Forgiveness is for YOU. It’s not about the other person. It’s not about if they “deserve” it or not. It’s not even about repairing relationships (though it can be). It’s giving yourself permission to move on. It’s how you begin to heal.

How do you deal with forgiveness? Does it come easily to you or is it a struggle? Are there ever circumstances you just can’t forgive?

  • Boss

    yeah by letting go you gave yourself the green light to live and don’t allowing the negative energy pulling you . is not that easy but you have to carry on . awesome quote and awesome subject ^_^

  • randomizationme

    This is so true! I had this one really great friend who gave me high levels of stress and brought so much drama in my life. Then, I eventually learned to let go and forgive her. The thing is I don’t really care what she does anymore and what she does is none of my concern. Our intertwined lines will never be the same like it was back then and it is okay, I actually rather not have it that way. Now, my life is so stress freee. I do not even think about her anymore and don’t blame her for what she has done. I still remember and I can go on and on whenever I talk about it; however, I don’t keep it on my mind and prevent myself from searching new friendships.

  • Kristina Knudsen

    Amazing post! I have a question though. I have a person that I struggle to forgive. And that’s only because the person is still a big part of my life in a way that it’s a constand reminder of what that person has done. Is it okay to cut the person out of my life? Can I still forgive that person if I do?

    Other than that the person is also mad at me and doesn’t want to let go. The person keeps finding a way to hurt me. The person keeps giving me more things that I have to forgive and it gets harder and harder to let go. What should I do? :/

    • Azy

      I think that it depends on what is the relationship between you and this person. If this person is a family member, than well, cutting a family member out of your life is a big issue and i don’t think cutting out a person and forgiving that particular person comes hand in hand.

      If this other person is a friend/boyfriend/non-family, I would say that this relationship that you are having is pathological because a person who is worthy of your attention and time should not keep finding a way to hurt you. You CAN let go if you need to. Forgiveness comes with letting go.

  • Ann

    I have been thinking about this recently. You just spoke to me Cassey. Thank you so much <3

  • DW

    needed that today.

  • Virjinia Harp

    It’s such a hard thing to do because I’ll find that I think I’ve forgiven someone for something and then when I’m in a middle of a mindless task it popped into my head and just makes me so mad all over again. It’s truly a process of nipping all those thoughts in the bud before they bloom into anger and pain all over again. It takes time but it honestly feels better once I’ve let it go.

    With Purpose and Kindness

  • Aw, I love this! It’s been hard for me to forgive people for YEARS because of the pain I’ve experienced in my past. I’m currently working on forgiving those who have hurt me, and it’s been super rough because I’ve always seen forgiveness as a sign of weakness. Now, I know that it’s a sign of strength instead. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful gestures you can do.

    • Genevieve

      So true! Forgiving will always make you the best at the end of the day!

  • chris mitch

    I already try to live like this and now I’m going to try even harder. Although I do have someone I can’t forgive as well. In 8th grade I fell down a flight if stairs. I thought I was going to die now. I even had to spent 3 weeks in hospital and one of my classmetes made fun if me. Most of the day is blurry but I remember very clearly lying on the floor unable to move, unable to speak, unable to do anything and that classmate standing there in front of me laughing. I kind of got over that traumatic experience but I never had it in me to forgive him for making fun of me and not helping.

    • Genevieve

      Thanks for sharing.

  • B.

    Forgiveness is such a difficult and tedious process, but powerful and rewarding once you achieve it. On another note, one thing I try to keep in mind re: positivity is that it’s like anything else: keep practising it for a few weeks, and it likely becomes a habit. It becomes easier and more natural to think more healthily, to let go of the wrong-doings of someone else, to rid yourself of all that unhealthy baggage (and hormones!). I’m in the process of letting go of some recent negative baggage myself, and it’s never easy during the moment. But I know that overtime – like with the other ones in the past – the pain will recede and I will feel lighter – for my own good, health, and happiness. (:

    • Genevieve

      Thanks, it helps that I can tell people this, because it would be too awkward with my parents.

  • Genevieve

    Hello, usually I can forgive people, but there is one person that I really hate and I don’t know how to stop hating him because it was never a problem before. Can I have some help please?
    My Grandfather died a long time ago and I never knew him, but when my Grandmother remarried, I loved him, it didn’t matter if he wasn’t my mom’s dad, he was my Grandpa. Then he died of cancer and I was devastated. Then my Grandmother got married again and moved away. I hate my Grandmother’s husband! I hate him! And it makes me upset! I want to spend more time with my Grandmother because she’s old, and old people don’t have forever. She used to live really close and I saw her every Sunday, but now, I never see her. I just can’t forgive her husband, I just can’t. My Grandmother is one of those lucid old people who just doesn’t ramble on and on about what has happened in her life, but her new husband is. Usually I can see the best in people, but now I can only see the worst. Please help me forgive him, I don’t know who else to turn to.

    • Anika Bruce

      I think first you have to ask yourself why you hate him. Is it just because he’s on of those old people that rambles on and on? Whatever it is, you then have to ask yourself, is he worth this hate you feel? Is it worth missing your grandma because of this hate? It might take some time, but if you can figure out where these feelings sprout, then you can forgive him for whatever’s going on, and you can forgive yourself for these feelings. I hope this helps, and I hope things get better!

  • Marie


    I am new to Blogilates and really love this post. It’s true Rawan if if you forgive somebody doesn’t mean you will be able to trust them again.

    I have a question related to the Monthly calendar. How does it work? Do you choose one or two workouts among the list of workout of the day or do you do all the workout listed for that day?
    If anyone could clarify this for me I would be so happy.
    Thank you

    • Anika Bruce

      Hey, welcome to the family! Each month you’ll get a new calendar, and you do all the workouts listed for that day (or as many as you can fit in with your schedule-all of them is the goal). Glad you’re here with us, and I hope you enjoy the workouts, they’re super fun!

      • Marie

        Thank you Anika

  • Kristine Di Grigoli Paige

    Would like to hear more about forgiveness such as a situation you faced with another. How do you walk away feeling complete even if you don’t agree?

  • Nessa

    I really needed to read this. Been trying for a while to forgive someone but it is so hard. Knowing that I don’t have to forget helps.

  • Freya

    This is beautiful. I really needed this right now. I’ll never trust again, but I sure can forgive! This has really helped, I’ll come back to this every time I struggle with it. To be honest, I need to give my soul a little break xxx

  • Rawan

    Just because you forgave someone, it doesn’t mean you have to trust them again

  • Melody Schwenk Gardner

    I actually like this one a lot. It’s a good perspective to have on the subject….

  • salamander

    totally been struggling with this for several months now.. its sooooo difficult to forgive and move on.

  • Chi Yan

    I relate to this so much! Especially the part on forgiveness not being about whether the other party deserves it or not. My mom (who grew up in a dysfunctional family) had such a hard time “forgiving” her parents. She tried her hardest to get them to love her as much as she loved them, but it never worked out. She literally spent years crying and thinking it through and finally forgiving them for everything. Forgiveness is about letting go; it doesn’t change the fact that my mom still has cold-hearted parents who never treated her as a daughter. But at least my mom is no longer suffering and no longer bearing hatred and negativity. Forgiveness really is a powerful and important thing, it gives us the chance to put down the past and focus on the better things in life.

  • Jennifer Petersen

    I have been told by those far wiser than me that forgiveness is an action, not an emotion. So dont beat yourself up if forgiving someone doesnt make you instantly happy or “over it.” Its still SO important to do…and hopefully over time you can feel or develop postive emotions from your forgiveness. The action, the desicion to forgive is just the first and most important step. All the benefits of forgiveness will flow after that! Thanks cassey. Just talked about this with my friends and prayer group today!

    • Wormy

      Thank you so much for this comment. I’m really struggling with forgiveness atm and getting angry with myself for still being angry.. I really needed to read this today. Bless you!

  • Forgiveness is also a commitment! I have to remember that or else I’m not truly forgiving myself. Forgiveness means not holding onto residual guilt or feelings. It starts you on a clean slate which is great. ^^

    I’m having a hard to forgiving my parents and the way I was brought up in the past, and also sometimes forgiving myself when my expectations aren’t met (like when I self-sabotage…)

    Would love some tips and tricks on this, Cassey! Maybe next sheroic podcast? Or do a meditation video?

  • martha atakora

    I’m 13 so this is probably going to sound stupid. But I used to like this guy and just when I got over him my friend told him and everyone. I ran into the locker room(because we were at gym) crying. I wasn’t even crying over him I was crying that I lost someone who I considered to be a close friend. And it hurt because I was there through her ups and down and I supported her and defended her when people badmouthed her. To make it worse a week before the incident, she went and insult me so personally. She insulted my religion. And it wasn’t a small little comment It was huge and she kept talking about it. She wouldn’t let it go. After I stopped crying over the incident, I asked her why she did it. She just shrug and said oh I was mad you didn’t believe me when I said your religion is stupid. NowI know forgiveness is important. But I can’t ever forgive her or forget about this.

    • Honeygal

      Wow. She is not a real friend. You have every reason to distance yourself from her now and believe me, distance helps with forgiving. Surround yourself with others that share your values but still be kind to her. Years from now she will wonder why you two grew apart but she will hopefully mature and realize how cruel she was and learn from her mistakes.

  • Gabriella

    Yes! Thank you for this Cassey! I have been struggling to forgive a lot of people.

  • Chantel

    This is just what I needed.