Health studies show that people who are willing to forgive themselves and others are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments.
It can often be difficult for problem gamblers to ask for forgiveness because they do not feel worthy of it, experience deep levels of shame, regret, and sadness caused by their actions, offenses, or flaws that caused the anger or resentment in themselves and in others. At the same time, it can be equally challenging for loved ones to be receptive to the concept of forgiveness. However, it is imperative to embrace forgiveness, even when one or others do not feel it is worthy. Otherwise, it can hold a person captive from moving on in their lives. In fact, research confirms that granting forgiveness can improve a person’s overall mental and physical health. More specifically, forgiveness can:
- Improve cholesterol levels and sleep
- Reduce blood pressure, stress, anxiety, depression, and major psychiatric disorders
- Lessen physical health symptoms
- Lower the risk of heart attack and mortality rates
- Build self-esteem
Research confirms that granting forgiveness can improve a person’s overall mental and physical health.
While stress relief is important, Bob Enright, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who pioneered the study of forgiveness over three decades ago, “believes
there are other important mechanisms by which forgiveness works its magic. One of those, he suggests, is ‘toxic’ anger.” According to Enright, “There’s nothing wrong with healthy anger, but when anger is very deep and long-lasting, it can do a number on us systemically. When you get rid of anger, your muscles relax, you’re less anxious, you have more energy, your immune system can strengthen.”
For compulsive gamblers and others, it is essential to note that to be forgiven, a person needs to make amends and take ownership of their actions. Some suggested steps include:
- Be sincere
- Acknowledge mistakes or trespasses made
- Show remorse
- Avoid making excuses
- Ask for forgiveness
According to Dr. Karen Swartz, Director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at John Hopkins Hospital, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease, and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”
Research conducted by Toussaint and Worthington “suggests that stress relief is probably the chief factor connecting forgiveness and well-being.” Medical evidence documents that chronic stress is bad for one’s health and according to Toussaint, “Forgiveness allows you to let go of the chronic interpersonal stressors that cause us undue burden.”
FOR ANYONE SUFFERING FROM THE FINANCIAL IMPACTS OF PROBLEM GAMBLING, HELP AND HOPE CAN BE FOUND THROUGH FCCG’S 24/7 CONFIDENTIAL AND MULTILINGUAL 888-ADMIT-IT HELPLINE. THE HELPLINE CAN ALSO BE REACHED BY TEXTING 321-978-0555, STARTING A LIVE CHAT AT GAMBLINGHELP.ORG, EMAILING FCCG@GAMBLINGHELP.ORG, AND MESSAGING THE FCCG ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS, SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.
 Weir, K. (2017, Vol. 48, No. 1). Forgiveness Can Improve Mental and Physical Health (2017). American Psychological Association; John Hopkins Medicine (2021). Forgiveness: Your Health Depends on It.
 John Hopkins Medicine (2021); Weir, K.(2017).
 John Hopkins Medicine (2021).
 Weir, K. (2017)