How to Let Go of Resentment: The Health Benefits of Forgiveness
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
What a remarkable statement! It’s the truth, right?
So, what is resentment, anyway?
It comes from the old French word “ressentir”, which means an intense feeling. It is a feeling of anger or bitterness toward anything or anyone. We often see resentment directed at an action or a statement. Most of the time, it is manifested as anger toward a person—especially those in authority like parents, government officials and even God.
According to one writer, it is the cheapest, most irrational form of anger—all emotion and no strength.
Can resentment affect physical health?
Medical science continues to prove that feelings of anger, bitterness and hostility have a significant impact on the body. Resentment affects not only the emotions, but it moves to control the mind and eventually eats up the body.
To learn the latest medical and social studies about the effects of resentment on physical health, watch this presentation.
It is no wonder then that Proverbs 17:22 says “a broken spirit dries the bone.”
But “a cheerful heart is good medicine”!
Again, this biblical line proves true in most, if not all, cases. But how can someone who harbors bitterness in their heart have a cheerful spirit? Can hostility coexist with a merry heart?
Without forgiveness or letting go, such intense negative feelings will make a person sick. The body, heart and mind are poisoned, and life is cut short.
Another vital medicine against hostility is gratitude—feeling grateful even in the midst of challenging circumstances.
What’s the first step to fight off and heal from hostility?
Assessment is the first key. Henri Nouwen created this checklist:
• Did I offer peace today?
• Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
• Did I say words of healing?
• Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
• Did I forgive?
• Did I love?
These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love I sow now will bear many fruits—here in this world and the life to come.
Let go and let God.
Throughout the Holy Scriptures, we are advised against bitter feelings, especially toward other people.
In Ephesians 4:31 it says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you.”
Join Dr. Lela Lewis and her special guests as they share practical, up-to-date tips on how to deal with this least legitimate form of anger. We encourage you to share your thoughts on this subject in the comments.
Learn more about LEVEL UP and our recent symposiums at awr.org/health.
MEET THE HOST
Lela Lewis, MD, MPH, a graduate of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, is the medical director of AWR360° Health. She also serves as president of Your Best Pathway to Health, leading a team that provides free medical clinics across the United States. Dr. Lewis is an obstetrics and gynecology specialist in