Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. Forgiveness: An Unexpected Side Effect of Exercise

    Special for Diet-to-Go

    by Bob Livingstone LCSW

    There are many articles written in the mainstream press stressing the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the steps one takes in order to let go of emotional baggage and pain. It is also a means to release anger, hatred and self-sabotage. Forgiveness is a way to let go of grudges, resentments and thoughts of "getting back" at someone who you firmly believed hurt you.

    Usually this wound involves the betrayal of a once dear friend who you implicitly trusted. The hurt often comes out of the blue and without warning. This causes you to wonder why you should ever have faith in anyone's promise again. This betrayal is experienced in a traumatic fashion and triggers all kinds of different emotions; from anger, sadness, hopelessness and withdrawal from others. These emotions are typically not released, but spun around endlessly in your head and heart.

    This type of forgiveness is about finding a way to exonerate others. Perhaps a more important form of forgiveness is releasing the hurt you have experienced from your own actions. You may also want to examine the pain you created for significant figures in your life.

    Exercise by itself has proven to be a natural stress reducer. One way to heal deep internal hurts is to create an emotional pain question or statement before your aerobic workout and then focus on this while you are exercising.

    Use the process below during a seven-day period while you are exercising. You can use the first sentence in each bullet point as your emotional pain question or statement. You can utilize the rest of each paragraph as guides to facing your own issues.

    7 Ways Exercise Teaches How to Forgive Yourself

    • What do I need to forgive myself for?

    • I need to forgive myself for mentally beating up on myself for all these years. I realize that I have been calling myself names and never feeling like I'm good enough. I do this to myself because my father treated me in a similar fashion. I will work hard at changing this way of relating to myself.

    • I need to forgive myself for being in a state of fear all these years. I have been fearful because my parents didn't teach me how to self-soothe when I panicked. I am now taking meditation and yoga classes as tools to teach me to relax and calm myself when frightened.

    • I need to forgive myself for being verbally abusive to my partner. While there is no excuse for this behavior, I realize that I acted in this mean spirited fashion because my mother physically and emotionally abused me. I am now in therapy as well as anger management classes in an effort to understand and change my violent behavior.

    • I need to forgive myself for not trusting anyone when I was a teenager. When I was an adolescent, my father died and having a parent die at such a time of life led me to fear that anything or anyone close to me would vanish. This led me to distrust everyone. I am now going to grief counseling to work through this loss.

    • I need to forgive myself for not nurturing the positive relationships I had in my life. This led to those closest to me ending their friendships. For some reason I don't believe I deserve to have any best friends. I continue to focus on this issue while I work out and I have faith that one day I stop sabotaging myself.

    • I want to ask my partner to forgive me for calling her cruel names, tearing down her self-esteem, making her afraid of me and ruining her confidence. I want to tell her that I am in the process of changing and I will do my best to utilize all the tools I have learned to not strike out at her in any way. I have the right to express my anger, but I can do so in a calm, respectful manner.

    I know I have a lot to atone for and there is no reason for her to believe that I am sincere, but I know the damage I caused her and am willing to do anything to repair it.

    Bob Livingstone LCSW is the author of The Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain through Exercise. Find this book and other healing stories at


    Psychology & Weight Loss
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