Why Forgiveness Is The Missing Link To Healing & How To Forgive
The majority of my blog (and really my career) is about healing. Healing your gut, healing from Hashimoto’s, and eating healing foods. Though you’ll typically find me talking about healing with delicious paleo recipes, castor oil packs, and collagen peptides, today I want to talk about healing with something different… and that’s forgiveness.
Though most of my readers have some form of autoimmune disease, chronic illness, or gut issues that they’re trying to resolve with diet, we are all broken people in some sense. Whether it be our health, our emotional wellbeing, or something else entirely, no one is perfect, and we all have some healing to do.
We’ve all been angry at something. In this world of chronic illness, we’re most often angry at the doctors who failed us, at the people who didn’t believe us, at the food system that’s broken, and at ourselves for getting to a certain place. Sound familiar? Are you checking all boxes right now? These grudges hold us back from healing.
I want to share with you what I’ve learned first hand about how to heal with forgiveness. Why it matters, why you’re not a bad person for being angry for what happened to you, and who you need to forgive.
Why We Need to Forgive to Heal
Anger, grudges, and emotional pain are inflammatory. Just as inflammatory, if not more, than a big ol’ sugar-y cookie, and maybe even a cigarette. The stress keeps our stress response going, the anger keeps us from enjoying life, and the victimization keeps us from believing that we can ever heal.
Forgiveness is a central part of any healing journey. No matter how hard it is, or how long it takes us to forgive, we need to strive to do it.
You’re not a bad person for feeling angry, hurt or wronged. You’re human. Feeling wronged is normal… but it’s holding you back from healing.
Who You Need to Forgive to Heal…
Forgive Your Doctor and The Medical System
We put a lot of weight on the shoulders of doctor and the medical system. We trust it to solve our problems and make us whole again. And that isn’t wrong. Doctors spend their professional lives working to help us heal, and we can’t be expected to do that work ourselves. But when they lead us astray, we suffer both from health issues without relief, and the psychological pain of anger that keeps us from healing.
I’ll never forget how wronged I felt by my doctors as a kid. Growing up I hated eating meat, I was overweight, I was exhausted, and my body was crying for help. What I really needed was a loving voice to help me fix my digestion, heal my gut, and teach me about a nutrient dense diet. What I got were doctors that laughed at me when I told them that eating meat and fat made me gag, doctors that called me fat, and doctors that told me I just needed to exercise more to be healthy. I will never forget that doctor that once told me that all I needed to do get my daily required amount of protein was to eat enough peanuts to cover the palm of my hand. I am not lying. I was really told that advice by a doctor in middle school.
Looking back, that makes me angry. I saw dozens of doctors who wrote me off, turned me away, and made me think I was crazy to the point that I didn’t even believe I was sick. It held me back in my health and my life for years. I was livid.
However, one of my favorite things that my old boss used to say was “doctors are practicing“. Doctors are human, and the medical systems are inherently flawed. They will never be able to single handedly solve all of our problems.
That grudge that I held against doctors made me insane. It kept me from trusting my good functional medicine doctors fully, and it made me feel like I would never heal. All of that kept me from healing.
It’s hard, it feels wrong, and it does not make anything that crappy doctors told you okay, but in order to get over the pain and move on with your health, you have to forgive.
I had to move on and forgive the doctors that wronged me to form a new, better relationship with my new doctors, and with the research that was being put out their by doctors that I was using to educate myself. It didn’t make that ridiculous peanut doctor situation okay… but it freed me of the emotional pain that it caused me for years.
Forgive The Food System
This one is especially hard. It sounds like something absolutely crazy to ask of you. The same system that pumps our children full of sugar, grows GMO corn, and feeds us all the wrong information. I’m asking you to forgive that?
Again… forgiveness doesn’t make it okay.
Forgiving this system doesn’t mean that you can’t still speak out against it. It releases you of the anger and allows you to advocate for a healthier, more natural food system.
What our food system does is not okay. But where does anger alone really get us? Pushing for a better system and educating on change gets us somewhere. I’ve had to force myself to spend my energy on celebrating all of the things that are right with the natural, organic, and local food system, rather than just getting angry about the bad. And guess which one people like to read about more? Guess which one actually gives them valuable information that improves their lives? You guessed right 😉
Forgive Those Who Wronged You
I’ve had my fair share of naysayers in my life. Former friends and ex-boyfriends who thought my health problems were made up, my way of living was stupid, and refused to take any interest at all in what I was doing with my health and my life. Thinking about them would make my blood boil for years.
Forgiving those people doesn’t make it okay. It also doesn’t mean they need to be in my life anymore… most of them are not. But it helps me get over them, and it helped me open my heart to new people, or restart relationships with people who have wronged me in the past.
This is arguably the biggest one, and the one that I see most people struggle with. I’ve had so many people come to me saying, “I did this to myself” or asking, “What did I do wrong to deserve this?”.
I used to go over the timeline in my own head for years of how I got sick. First, I didn’t want to eat real food, then I binged on sugar, then I restricted and didn’t nourish myself, then I over did antibiotics and NSAIDs, then I got sick. It felt like it was all my fault.
Personal responsibility and recognizing what we can do to change aren’t bad things… but hating yourself? That’s bad news.
There likely are things in your life that you can do differently. We all make mistakes. But the longer that we hold onto that guilt and shame for what we’ve done in the past, the longer we stay stuck.
Yes, I did a lot of things wrong with my health that didn’t help. However, I didn’t know better… I didn’t have the information that I have now.. and I’m human.
Forgiving yourself is a mental shift that takes a lot of work… but it’s incredibly powerful for moving forward.
But, How Do You Forgive?
First, Recognize That Anger and Grudges Are Human
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful, and most difficult pieces of a healing journey to achieve. We hold grudges, we get angry, and the majority of the time, we have good reason to be angry. We’re angry about a doctor or a medical system that held us back from true health for years, we’re angry at a loved one for how they’ve treated us, or maybe we’re angry at ourselves for where we are in life.
Next, Remember That Forgiveness Doesn’t Make it “Okay”
The biggest misconception with forgiveness is that it makes what happened to you okay. It doesn’t. If you were wronged by someone or something, forgiving them or the situation doesn’t make it okay.
Forgiveness frees you of the emotional anguish of anger.
Still Be An Advocate For What Is Right
You can still advocate against what happened to you. That’s why I still advocate against most conventional doctors even though I’ve forgiven the system that wronged me for years. Forgiving doesn’t make it okay.. it just allows you to take one step further along if your healing journey.
Forgive Verbally and In Your Heart
If someone has wronged you, or you feel like you have wronged yourself, verbally offer forgiveness. Acknowledge it with your voice.
But more importantly, forgive in your heart, fully and completely. So many times we can say we’re forgiving something, but still hold grudges. Remind yourself over and over to let go of these grudges.
Finally, Remember That You Can Be Forgiven and the Greatest Example for Forgiveness Already Exists
We live in a society that’s pretty void of forgiveness. Say or do anything wrong, and you’ll forever have a target on your back. And though justice needs to be served, and doing bad things is not excusable, we have little example of grace and forgiveness in society.
The ultimate example of grace and forgiveness to me is God’s grace. Being human is not about being good enough… we’ll always fall short. But. No matter how far we are from being a whole complete person, He can and will still forgive us.
Forgiveness isn’t easy. We’ll all have to do it a million times over in our lives and keep reteaching ourselves how to do it. But, when we do, powerful things happen to our health and our life.