Forgiving Yourself for Bad Heart Health Habits

SYoung Health Guide
  • I know you all appreciate what it's like living with high cholesterol.  While I realize that managing high cholesterol isn't like battling cancer as there is no comparison, it is still not easy to do.  Sometimes I get the urge to head off to Margaritaville, or run away from all the self-discipline.  I want to sit back and nosh on deep fried taquitos, salty chips and salsa, and then plow through some delicious cheese enchiladas and top it all off with fried ice cream.  Sometimes I yearn for a vacation from responsibility.  


    Self-mastery is critically important, but so too is forgiveness. If we trip up in our diet or our exercise routine, or if we take a vacation from self-mastery, it is very important that we forgive ourselves and move on.  We just need to promise ourselves to be better the next time around. That said, we shouldn't be taking vacations every day and using forgiveness as an excuse for bad behavior.  Real forgiveness is critical to good health, both forgiveness of ourselves for our mistakes and forgiveness of those around us for the perceived slights and faults we all make and have.

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    I think often of forgiveness and patience-the two virtues I am working hard to grow in as part of my heart healthy lifestyle.  I wonder how many of us battle high cholesterol not only from poor genetics, as that is definitely a key factor in heart disease, but also from toxic emotions.  There are numerous studies showing a direct correlation between anger and heart disease and high blood pressure-such that even getting upset with another driver in traffic sets off a whole series of flight or fight responses inside us that injures heart tissue, spikes blood pressure, raises blood insulin, and damages arteries.  I will admit that I do get upset with drivers on their cell phones that pay zero attention to what is happening around them and then nearly hit me or run me over as I am walking my dog.  Their selfishness is paramount.  I know in that split second that my body is responding as it was built and engineered to do, flight or fight. I know I also have, in that split second time frame, a choice to make.  There really is plenty of time to make a decision given how fast brains work.  I may either respond with fear, anger, or forgiveness.  Fright and anger are very obvious choices, and I will admit that I have indeed chosen anger and its harmful side-effects on more than one occasion.  However, I have also found that when I do choose forgiveness, even if I have to forgive them for being stupid, which I find very fun to do under the circumstances, I do not suffer from that spike of damaging adrenaline and the ensuing harmful emotional side-effects.  The other effect I have found of forgiveness is that my life in general feels more peaceful, which has also positively impacted my blood pressure, which is now declining without the assistance of medication.


    I think too that forgiveness grows other health benefits as it increases patience, which in return reduces irritation with the folks we encounter each and every day, which in turn, reduces anger in our lives and its detrimental side effects. 

  • So, today I choose to forgive myself when I fail at self-mastery but also promise to pick myself up and get back on track right away, not tomorrow, not later, but right now.  I choose to forgive my parents for passing along bad heart health genes.  I also choose to forgive more generally to make my life a bit more peaceful.  I can already see the power of forgiveness and its resultant increased patience and lower levels of anger with others on my now lower blood pressure and improved blood tests. 

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    Since we all have to battle our inner demons who crave sweets and fattening food and encourage us to sit on the sofa rather than get on that treadmill, we really do have a powerful tool locked away inside us to help us in those times when we trip up or when those around us do, forgiveness.  I urge you to try it out for several months and see if it helps you and helps your health.  It has worked well for me so far.


    I really would love to hear from folks who read this blog on this topic.  Please let me know if forgiveness makes any dents in your battle against cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease generally. 

Published On: May 29, 2011