This week’s episode is certainly for those who go through cancer, but it’s uniquely relevant to all the family members and caregivers of someone walking through cancer. We know forgiveness is healing. However, newer research shows that forgiveness is specifically important to a cancer patient’s health. Most surprising, the greatest benefit of forgiveness comes if her caregivers practice self-forgiveness.
It’s easy to feel like you’re falling short when you’re going through cancer. You feel awful, and more stuff is just going to get under your skin. Your loved ones probably feel awful too for different reasons, and so exhaustion, bad moods, and crankiness is going to set in. It happens.
Or what if you’re the caregiver? Literally nothing a caregiver does can be enough–not that your loved one feels that way. But, practically speaking, you are physically unable to cure the disease, and nothing really can make your loved one feel “comfortable.” And that’s all that probably matters to you right now. You’re going to make mistakes. You try to help, but you say something insensitive, and there are tears. You adjust the pillows the wrong way, and your loved one screams in pain.
Why is it so hard to let go of certain insults and injuries during major health crises? Why is it even harder to forgive ourselves of our own shortcomings? Moreover, why does it all matter?
Health Benefits of Forgiveness
Dr. Loren Toussaint is a psychologist, professor, and researcher from Luther College. He studies how forgiveness impacts both the mind and the body. In this episode, he shares the results of some recent studies that reveal a fascinating benefit of forgiveness: people who practice forgiveness are not only happier, but physically healthier too. Loren explains how to better practice forgiveness. He also dispels some harmful myths that often keep people from taking that important first step to forgive.
So many questions are discussed in this episode. Why should we forgive? Is forgiveness the same thing as saying someone did nothing wrong? Does forgiveness always come hand in hand with reconciliation? How can you forgive someone without appearing weak? Loren addresses all these questions and more in a thought-provoking interview about how both cancer patients and their caregivers can forgive others and themselves for harm they may or may not have meant to cause.
Music Credit: Scott Holmes of https://scottholmesmusic.com/
What We Talked About
- The benefits of forgiveness on the body when healing from physical trauma
- The benefits of forgiveness on the mind and how those who are more forgiving generally experience better global physical and mental health
- How caregivers’ self-forgiveness impacts cancer patients
- Common misconceptions about forgiveness and reconciliation
- How forgiving becomes easier when you make the conscious decision to forgive
- How forgiveness can be an important step to moving on
- Why what you think someone needs isn’t always what they do need and how harm can be unintentional–especially in the context of caregivers and family members
- The concept of self-forgiveness and how to forgive yourself for your own shortcomings
- 3 Q&A on Forgiveness and Cancer with a Leading Expert – A fantastic article Loren wrote for I’m Taking Charge
- Becoming More Forgiving video
- Loren’s website at Luther College
- The Forgiveness Project by Michael Barry
- Forgive for Good by Frederic Luskin
- Moving Forward by Everett Worthington
- We Do Forgiveness – a blog coauthored with Dr. Toussaint and Rev. Michael Barry, who has written extensively on forgiveness and cancer as well
- FoRGo – the website for the center where Dr. Toussaint researches and teaches
If this episode resonated with you, you may also want to listen to Kim Fredrickson’s episode on self-compassion.