It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.—Maya Angelou – American Poet 1928-2014
We underwent a home renovation and like most, it was horrendous to live through. During the process, we had a small fire, a flood, and the entire interior of the house was painted a hideously wrong color, to name a few of the mishaps.
Once we got through the renovation, moved out of the basement and into the renovated house, we were ecstatic with the results.
But… whenever thoughts of the renovation popped into my mind, I felt a burning anger which would cascade into bulging neck veins followed by mean-spirited revenge fantasies on the contractor. While I loved the house, I could not move past the painful process and kept laying blame on the contractor. I was stuck and needed a solution.
After a rant, a person dear to me suggested we forgive the builder. Within days, we hosted a gratitude lunch, and invited the entire contracting company over for a simple meal. We thanked each and every one of them for their work on the house. Of the twenty people in the company, some had not seen the house since demolition or even at all, if they were office staff.
The builder said nobody had ever once done this for his company, he and his staff were truly touched and it was a great morale booster for his company (an unintentional effect). I thanked him for the great outcome and we parted on good terms. He left not knowing that this gratitude lunch was my emergency response to my own distress, designed to help me get unstuck.
Not once since that day have I had a single negative thought or feeling about the renovation. What does this have to do with my health? Everything. My cortisol levels are lower, my BP is lower, and I experienced immediate and lasting peace. I discovered a new tool to use when these experiences come up, and that I must take full responsibility for my inner life. Investing in that simple meal may have added years and a great quality to my life. By forgiving another person, I healed myself.