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How Forgiveness Benefits the Nervous System

From a brain’s perspective, forgiveness takes much more than just letting go. It takes a conscious choice to see beyond someone else’s judgement of you, or replace a bad memory or event with a healing one. The brain requires a shift of focus and it forgives as a commitment to understand the other’s perspective & have empathy for one another.

Emotional wounds literally hurt - the exact same parts of the brain that are activated when we are physically hurt, go haywire when we experience an unpleasant event emotionally. Granting forgiveness is found to be associated with activations in the brain correlated with empathy, theory of mind, and the regulation of emotions through cognition.

Forgiving not only feels good, it can also rewire your nervous system. Forgiving can make your body feel stronger, as you forgive you let go of psychological stress & hostility that shrinks the brain and drains mental life, therefore affecting the physical body. When you let go of anger & resentment, your muscles relax, anxiety lessens, the immune system is strengthened & it can also help re-build self-esteem.


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