Forgiveness Is Good For Your Health

I recently suggested a prescription for forgiveness to address a patient’s recurring insomnia. Why? Because holding a grudge causes stress and chronic stress is the foundation for many chronic disorders, including insomnia. Conversely, forgiveness is “the feeling of peace that emerges as you take your hurt less personally and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell yourself.”

According to Dr. Fred Luskin from Stanford University, forgiveness is a trainable skill.  Luskin’s 5 steps to forgiving are described below.

Steps to Forgive

1. Identify your “Grief Story”. Grief is a natural response to being hurt because you experience some loss of trust. Think about a hurt you experienced and have not forgiven. Name the losses you felt.

2. Release your Grief. Once you have identified your grief story, work to release it. You can do this using the 5 stages of grief identified by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.  Notice where you are in the steps and even if you are not at step 5, the final step, proceed to step 3.  You can work on step 2 and 3 concurrently.

(1) Denial

(2) Anger

(3) Bargaining

(4) Depression

(5) Acceptance

3. Identify your unenforceable rule. Our unenforceable rules are usually related to our expectations of someone else’s behavior or feelings. When your wish that someone else would behave differently becomes a demand in your mind, you’ve created an unenforceable rule that can cause you hurt feelings and relationships.

4. Let go of or change your unenforceable rule. What’s easier, changing your rule or changing other people’s behavior or feelings? We can only manage our own emotions and feelings.

5. Let go of your “Grief Story”. Letting go of your grief story is the last step of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean you forget or condone offenses. And it does not require that you reconcile with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is a conscious decision to release feelings of resentment toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they deserve your forgiveness.

Practice a Forgiveness Meditation


The true resolution of grief is to release it.  Focusing on painful events in the past decreases our self-confidence and activates stress chemicals. The more we talk about and think about our grievance story, the more it becomes a part of us. If we don’t transform our suffering, we transmit it, both to ourselves and others.

If we are willing to forgive, we are likely to be happier, healthier, experience less and stress and have lower blood pressure and heart rate. The biggest reason to forgive is because it will bring you peace of mind, closure, and reduce your suffering.


The Self-Care Solutions newsletter allows you to personalize your approach to health and well-being.  It offers you choices.  Safe choices.  Evidence-based choices. The articles allow you to try on different options and see what works for you. Think of each as an invitation.

While not a substitute for care by your medical team, we’re here to support you in your quest for well-being!

Interested in Hero’s Journey Coaching?  Contact me at or visit

Reference Links: 

Forgiveness Promotes Well-Being

Forgive For Good, Fred Luskin

Forgiveness and Mental Health



Dr. Ruthann Russo

I love assisting people on their hero’s journey towards self-transformation. A passion which is born comes partly from personal experience – I view my own life as a series of self-transformations. I have 20+ years of education, training and experience, including being the CEO and founder of two health technology start-ups and global wellness consultant to Fortune 100 corporations.

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