Bitter or Better?

by Hans Diehl, DrHSc.

Good health requires more than a nutritious diet, avoidance of tobacco, adequate rest and regular exercise. It takes an integration of all these things, and more: a sense of humor, companionship, forgiveness, respect for spiritual things, and a rejection of negative emotions, such as anger, hatred and resentment. After all, emotions can either break down the life force and invite disease and death, or they can promote health and happiness.

What happens to us is not as important as how we perceive and react to the experience. We have a choice: bitter, or better.

If we are mostly concerned about our rights, then the doors are wide open for bitterness, resentment, anger, hatred, fear and guilt. These are self-destructive emotions that are foremost in depleting our emotional energies.

Instead, focus on forgiveness and acceptance. Forgive yourself, and forgive others. Accept that we all make mistakes. Separate the wrong done to you from the person doing it. If you feel slighted, it will build resentment unless you can separate the act from the feeling. That is the first step toward healing.

On the other hand, don't be a weakling. When faced with conflict, don't run from it, rationalize it away, ignore, deny, or drown it. We would all remain spineless worms if we didn't have to flex our muscles against the walls of difficulty and hardship in life. If we don't face and solve our problems, we can easily get on the "pity pot" where we feel sorry for ourselves and we blame our problems on someone else.

Remember that the sometimes painful struggle in solving problems helps us grow mentally, spiritually and emotionally. It also helps us develop deeper insights.

Those things that hurt may actually instruct and teach us. Wise people, therefore, learn bravely and cheerfully to accept problems and even the pain they bring.

Good health--beyond the physical--means accepting responsibility, dedicating ourselves to truth, talking to an understanding friend, asking for or offering forgiveness, concentrating on positive emotions and working toward change.

Healing often involves being willing to accept and process pain rather than to inflict pain. Recognize that you are not the center of the universe but that you are part of it. Make a conscious effort to understand that negative emotions not only harm others but also you. And rejoice! Because you are inherently valuable and precious!

Used by permission,
Lifeline Health Letter, 1st & 2nd Quarter 2000, p. 48.

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