Success Challenge Day 7: Forgive Someone Today. Set Yourself Free

by Dr. Rachael

by Dr. Rachael

Table of Contents

Forgiveness is a tough one!  Each day someone you love and someone you don’t does something that annoys and agitates.  The person at work who ‘didn’t say hi to me this morning,’ your cousin ‘who hasn’t paid you the money you lent him back,’ and your partner ‘who lied about where he/she had been the other day.’  It’s inevitable, someone is going to leave you feeling less than satisfied daily.

What is forgiveness anyway?  Can it really be done?  Do people really get over things?  Yes it can be done, yes people do it, but it takes an effort!  Forgiveness is the act of empathizing (putting yourself in their shoes) with the offender, letting go of negative emotions towards them, replacing those feelings with nice ones, and reducing the resentment and motivations toward revenge (the part of you that wants to stalk Facebook and talk about the offender every chance you get).


Forgiveness isn’t just something that pastors, priests, and nuns are good at.  Research finds that forgiveness is something that has been practiced by mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy people all over the world.  In order to grow and succeed in life, you have to learn how to let things go and move on.  Forgiveness helps you move past negative feelings and into positive ones.

Studies have begun to show us the negative impact ‘unforgiveness’ can have on a person’s physical health.  Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, one of the leading psychologists on the study of forgiveness asked people to think about someone who mistreated or hurt them in some way.   While they thought and spoke about this person she monitored their blood pressure, heart rate, sweat gland activity, and facial muscle tension.

Reliving and speaking about the people

Reliving and speaking about the people they had unforgiven led to increased blood pressures, heart rate, and multiple stressful emotions.  When these same people practiced forgiveness towards the person they thought about, their physical arousal and stress reactions decreased.

Another study looked at the stress hormone cortisol in couples who rated their relationships as either terrific or terrible.  You may have seen cortisol mentioned as the stress hormone that piles on the pounds in the gut area on those late night weight loss infomercials.  People with terrible relationships had more stress hormone/cortisol present AND scored much worse on the test that measured their willingness to forgive.

Importance of forgiveness in our daily lives

The studies go on and on to demonstrate the importance of forgiveness in our daily lives.  Unforgiving people maintain a level of hostility that is oftentimes impossible to move from.  When you could be enjoying yourself, you are hanging on to the past.  When you could be at a an event, but instead you opt not to go because a certain person is going to be there.  When you miss someone but cannot find it in your heart to pick up the phone.

Forgiveness frees your heart and gives you the ability to love someone unconditionally, fixes your face from frowns to smiles,  and helps you to develop that contagious glowing personality!!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.  He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power of love.”
Think about that person in your life who never forgives anyone and seems to struggle to get over anything.  You can feel their misery can’t you?  Strive for a better life for both you and your family.  Practice forgiveness.  Welcome to Day #7 of the #30DaySuccessChallenge!!

Article by

Rachael L. Ross
MD, PhDAs a family doctor and a sexologist.

Dr. Rachael Ross has been heralded as “The next Dr. Ruth, the nationally renowned sexual therapist who pioneered frank sex talk.” Chicago Tribune. Dr. Rachael earned her M.D. from Meharry Medical College and her Ph.D. from the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists, along with a B.A. from Vanderbilt University, where she studied anthropology.

Scroll to Top