In my previous post about Forgiveness, we can see that some spiritual views about forgiveness consider that there is a link between forgiveness and health.

The wonderful Wikipedia page about forgiveness has something about the link between forgiveness and health under "Research" heading:

Studies show that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. The first study to look at how forgiveness improves physical health discovered that when people think about forgiving an offender it leads to improved functioning in their cardiovascular and nervous systems. Another study at the University of Wisconsin found the more forgiving people were, the less they suffered from a wide range of illnesses. The less forgiving people reported a greater number of health problems.

There are now many articles about this, for example "Forgiveness Is Good For Your Health" where we can find the following:

When Buddha and Jesus and other great spiritual figures taught us to forgive those who sin against us, they weren't just pronouncing holy philosophy. Rather, they were giving practical down-to-earth life advice.

people who won't forgive the wrongs committed against them tend to have negative indicators of health and well-being: more stress-related disorders, lower immune-system function, and worse rates of cardiovascular disease than the population as a whole. In effect, by failing to forgive they punish themselves.

Yet forgiveness can have either a spiritual or secular basis, and both seem to work. [...] whether they forgave for religious or ethical reasons, the benefits were roughly the same.

A study at the University of Wisconsin showed that older people are more likely to forgive, suggesting forgiveness is a form of wisdom learned in stages.

And one study at the University of Miami at Ohio suggested that people whose partners had been sexually unfaithful might recover faster if they exacted some kind of emotional revenge on the guilty party. Thus, gentlemen, do not fool around and then try to tell your wife or girlfriend that it is in her self-interest to forgive you.

Now if it is so good to forgive others, maybe it's good to forgive oneself too. And indeed there are now some studies, books and articles about self-forgiveness, often called self-compassion, like Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges where we can find the following:

Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and family?

People who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others, it turns out, often score surprisingly low on self-compassion tests, berating themselves for perceived failures like being overweight or not exercising.

The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

Imagine your reaction to a child struggling in school or eating too much junk food. Many parents would offer support, like tutoring or making an effort to find healthful foods the child will enjoy. But when adults find themselves in a similar situation — struggling at work, or overeating and gaining weight — many fall into a cycle of self-criticism and negativity. That leaves them feeling even less motivated to change.

“The reason you don’t let your children eat five big tubs of ice cream is because you care about them. With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.”

The hypothesis is that the women who felt bad about the doughnuts ended up engaging in “emotional” eating. The women who gave themselves permission to enjoy the sweets didn’t overeat.

But is forgiveness always simple? In this interview with Dr. Robert Karen, the author of The Forgiving Self: The Road from Resentment to Connection, we can see that forgiveness is a process that may involve expressing anger:

Q. Is it possible to forgive when you are still very angry?

A. I think one of the great causes of grudges is unexpressed anger. It's really tragic for any two people when anger is replaced by silence. That's when you get the festering resentments, the subjects that are being avoided. When it gets bad enough, in a marriage for instance, you can have people who say they're just bored with each other. But boredom is often the sign of a silent grudge. The alternative, in my mind, is that we enjoy our anger.

Q. What does enjoying our anger mean, exactly?

A. Anger is not just about destructiveness. Through anger we voice our protests. And without protests, there is just silence and grudge. The trick is to have your passions — which are often quite murderous — and yet hold onto this other idea, that this person to whom I'm attributing the worst deeds and motives is someone I care about.

So while I'm telling him how much I wanted to strangle him, I'm also going to try to remember that there's probably more to the story than meets my rageful eye. Maybe I played a part in this, maybe I'm reading it wrong. That's what it means to be able to tolerate ambiguity and ambivalence, which is one of the hallmarks of maturity and of the capacity for forgiveness.

Q. But forgiveness doesn't come instantly, does it?

A. Usually, it takes a long time before we discover the love of someone who has hurt us. First comes anger, and very often a sense of persecution. We go through all the typical, horrible stuff to which human nature and human psychology are prone.

But I think eventually, if we are lucky, we do get over our resentments. Even though this bad thing happened, or we don't have this person in our lives anymore. We look back with a warmth that recognizes what was good and what remains good and we want to hold onto.