Forgiveness is good for your health. When you remember the times you’ve been hurt or hurt others, you will feel the negative emotions from your past like it is happening to you again because it is. The same chemicals that were released when it happened to you are being released all over again.
Feelings are just chemicals that your body releases in response to stimuli. That’s what people mean when they say, “You’re triggering me.” They mean that you have done something that their brain recognizes as a cue or ‘trigger’ to release certain chemicals. Usually these are in relation to negative emotions, although it is exactly the same process for positive emotions. These chemicals also cue a reaction. Our brain usually has a set reaction for each trigger; this is called a behavior cycle.
Experiencing the negative feelings over and over again after the traumatic event has occurred is very bad for our mental, spiritual, and physical health. The negative emotions we are feeling are a cue that we must change our behavior or surroundings. If we do not listen to these negative emotions and make changes in our lives, we will continue to experience the negative feelings over and over again, thus also causing mental, spiritual, and physical problems.
I know this to be true because four times in my life I felt the need to cry every day for an extended period of time and yet did not change my behavior. When I felt completely overwhelmed and like I’d rather be dead instead of live with the pain I felt, I would make a major life change – move countries, move jobs, move schools. This would remove me completely from all stimuli that might be causing me to cry. But then it would start all over again because while completely removing myself from the trigger stopped my crying, it was impossible to figure out what was causing me to cry since I had literally changed everything in my life. I also never learned how to behave in a way that would either prevent the situation from happening or a response that would stop it from happening again. I was stuck in a destructive behavior cycle.
I am becoming more and more aware of my triggers. I am slowly figuring out how to respond so that instead of hurting myself or others, everyone can have their needs met – aka assertive communication.
All you can control is yourself. You can’t control the emotions you feel but you can control the way you react when you experience them. All emotions are good emotions because they inform us in how we should act.
And as Frank Outlaw, Margaret Thatcher, or Buddha said:
Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.