2020 was an exceptionally tough year for many people. Studies show that the pandemic resulted in people feeling more depression, more anxiety, and more financial stress. All perfectly understandable reactions to the events of the past year.
There is evidence that anger and conflict can take a serious toll on your not just your mental health, but your physical health as well. Karen Swartz, director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital says chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. She states those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions.
Continuing to stay in a relationship which creates conflict can take a long-term toll on your mental and physical health. Learning to forgive yourself and others may be the key to freeing yourself from ongoing pain and stress. You may never get the apology you deserve from a spouse who has contributed to conflict in your relationship, and accepting that reality may be exactly what you need to be happy. Expectations can create cycles of disappointment and anger which ultimately impact our mental and physical health.
Swartz explains that forgiveness is an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings, whether the person deserves it or not. That is the hardest part about forgiveness. Whether we are working to forgive ourselves, or someone else, letting go of hurt and anger is something we can do for ourselves. It does not condone bad behavior. It does not mean we allow someone to continue to hurt and disappoint us. It means making our own minds a safe space where we have removed self-destructive criticism.
It is possible to amicably end a relationship which has been rooted in conflict. It may require patience and forgiveness, if not for your spouse, at least for yourself. Pain caused by ongoing conflict may take years to forgive. That’s ok. You have to start somewhere.
Make 2021 the year you begin the process of forgiving yourself and putting yourself in a better position to manage the conflict in your life.