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American Heart Month: Forgiveness and Heart Disease

Posted by [email protected] on February 11, 2016 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)


American Heart Month: Forgiveness and Heart Disease

February is designated as American Heart Month because heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States. According to the Office of Minority Health, heart disease affects people from all walks of life, and over 600,000 people die from it every year. Unfortunately, the rate of heart disease is higher in racial and ethnic minority communities. In fact, these health disparities are alarming to say the least. Listen to these data as it relates to heart disease in African Americans.

• African American adults are 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, and they are less likely than their non-Hispanic White counterparts to have their blood pressure under control.

• African Americans were 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than non-Hispanic whites.

For years, forgiveness has been associated with fewer reported physical symptoms, lower medications use, a stronger immune system, and reduced cardiovascular mortality. Previous research (Lawler, et al, 2005, Lawler, et.al, 2003, & Larsen, et al, 2012) has proven the connection of unforgiveness on blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiovascular reactivity. In fact, the ongoing strain of unforgiveness has been shown to increase mortality in individuals.

So, during this Heart Month while I applaud the work of the American Heart Association and other relevant stakeholders, the link of forgiveness to heart disease has been mostly ignored. Yet, given our present realities and the high morbidity and mortality rates related to heart disease in the African American community, I wanted to use this Blog to broach the topic of forgiveness and heart disease.

So this begs the question, could unforgiveness be an underlying cause of cardiovascular diseases in Americans, and could the noted disparities in minority populations, be linked to higher rates of unforgiveness? If yes, while you “Rock Your Red”, could you join me in some self-reflection. Let us stop and focus on areas where there may be unforgiveness in our lives, offer forgiveness to those who ask, and work to let things go. Again, as a reminder, at our ministries, we offer forgiveness facilitation workshops and sessions for individuals and groups – visit us at www.forgive4health.org

We would love to hear from you about any experiences you might have had with unforgiveness, hypertension, or heart disease? So, add your story to our Blog, and help us STOP heart disease.

 

Forgiveness in the Workplace

Posted by [email protected] on January 15, 2016 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Forgiveness at Work in 2016

Welcome to 2016 and Happy New Year to all of our readers. This is our first blog of 2016, and for January, we will focus on forgiveness in the workplace. The idea for this blog week came while I was in the process of preparing for a session on forgiveness at work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA. Given that all of us just returned to work after our Christmas and New Year’s holiday season, I thought that this was a timely topic. I hope that you will agree.

The need to address the issue of forgiveness at work cannot be over emphasized, and I hope that the topic will lead to some stimulating discussions. For my CDC session, I plan to start with a few audience questions and thought that it might be helpful to share these here as well. I hope that doing this will afford readers with the opportunity to consider these questions, do some self-reflection, and develop strategies to address forgiveness in the workplace, as appropriate.

So, let’s get started with some examples of potential issues that could get an individual to be unforgiving? Have you ever had a disagreement with someone at work that affected your family, sleep, or even your work performance? Witnessed your idea stolen by a colleague who ended getting a promotion for your work? Have you been passed over for a promotion that you know you deserved? Have you experience or seen racism, discrimination, sexism, white privilege, and or disrespectful action provided to yourself or another, when this was not deserved? Had a boss who micromanaged? Have a co-worker who is the “boss’s pet” and workplace tattle tale? Or have a new employee come into your worksite and took a job you applied for? If your answer is yes to any of these or similar examples and you have not forgiven that individual, you could be living in un-forgiveness. So, what can you do?

• First, I would suggest that you complete a forgiveness assessment. This test measures depositional forgiveness or your tendency to forgive.

• Refer to the assessment at http://heartlandforgiveness.com/take-the-hfs/

• Based on your scores, determine whether your forgiveness levels are high or low. For instance, scores between 18-54 represents low forgiveness, scores between 55-89, reflects a moderate level of forgiveness, and scores between 90-126, and reflects a high level of forgiveness.

• Second, consider whether you are experiencing any lingering effects of the transgression/s that occurred. For instance, does your heart race when the transgressor walks into the room? Is your sleep and quality of life affected by the stress created by this situation? Can you pray for this person?

• Remember, forgiveness is a gradual process that can have many fits and starts. So, use an evidence-based process, and repeat it as many times as needed. In the realm of forgiveness, practice does make perfect. In fact, immediately after a transgression, you will be furious, but as time goes by, your selective amnesia of anything good in this person, diminishes. But, if you are a Christian and in tuned to the Holy Spirit, you will be reminded of God’s word to forgive others as Christ forgave you, and work to eventually let it go.

The REACH forgiveness model developed by Dr. Everett Worthington, one of our pioneers on forgiveness has worked successfully for many of our clients. The REACH model follows these steps.

R- Recall the hurt~ true forgiveness can only come with openness and honesty.

E- Empathize with your transgressor ~ try to see things from their perspective.

A- Offer the Altruistic gift of forgiveness~ remembers a gift brings more benefit to the giver.

C- Commit to forgive your transgressor~ you can do this to Christ or publicly to a coworker.

H- Hold to that forgiveness~ keeps repeating this process, until you are free.

In addition to following this model, please consider doing the following at work.

• Do not avoid the transgressor- forgiveness is not avoiding

• Let the offender off without accountability

• Seek revenge or harbor ill-will

• Pray for the transgressor and your leaders ~ the bible clearly tells us to pray for those in authority.

• Work to foster a culture of forgiveness in the workplace

• Teach employees and managers to forgive one another, and be willing to talk about issues, not cover them over

• Encourage employees to apologize if they make a mistake.

• Build happiness into the work place. Find opportunities to encourage employees to be happy- they will be more productive

• If you are the supervisor- start by setting an example for your staff and managers.

• Work to not take every issue personally, even if it is, God is still in control and the best way to get his help is to FORGIVE.

But you might ask why should you forgive your transgressors, I am glad you asked. Forgiveness at work has several benefits, including, a more productive and happy team, healthier employees, and less staff turnover. Do you know a company which could not benefit from more productive and happier employees?

Finally, while forgiveness is not often considered in the workplace, after reading this Blog, I am sure that most readers will confess that they have witnessed or know someone who could benefit from this information. So, please share this with others and send us your comments.

 

Mental Health Month, Depression and Forgiveness

Posted by [email protected] on May 18, 2015 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

May is Mental Health month and the 2015 theme “B4Stage4” focuses on how individuals can address their mental health early, rather than at "Stage 4" - when symptoms are more severe, and recovery a longer process. As I thought about the 2015 theme for Mental Health Month, I could not help but reflect on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health. According to WHO, health is a state of complete physical, spiritual, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Health, therefore, is not complete; if one’s mental health is subpar.

According to National Alliance of Mental Illness, (2013), one in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17−about 13.6 million−live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Serious mental illnesses cost America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. In fact, mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44. What this means is that on any given day, millions of Americans struggle with mental health illnesses. Yet, the stigma linked to mental illnesses continues to prevent many, especially minority populations; such as African Americans from accessing the mental health services, they so desperately need.

At Forgive4 Health Ministries, we are acutely aware that unforgiveness increases depression, anxiety, and bitterness in individuals who choose not to forgive. In fact, depression can be an early sign of unforgiveness. Depression can be a chronic, debilitating condition which impacts the quality of life of individuals. Therefore, depression must be addressed both medically and spiritually. Join us this month by completing a forgiveness assessment and addressing any issues that could be impacting your mental health. After all, Christ came to set us free in body, mind, soul, and spirit. So, don’t continue to live a lie, check in with your doctor, call our counselor, and do something; anything B4Stage4.

Please share with us about any mental issues that you might be struggling with, as well as how forgiveness might be beneficial in this process?

Blessings!

Dr. Meg

 

National Nutrition Month: The Registered Dietitian, Healthy Eating, and Unforgiveness

Posted by [email protected] on March 8, 2015 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

March is National Nutrition month, when we as a nation celebrate healthy eating, and work to empower Americans to choose a healthy diet. This diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. On March 11, “Registered Dietitian (RD) Nutritionist Day,” we  will stop to celebrate all the nutrition and dietetics professionals that help Americans to eat healthier. Happy RD day to all of my colleagues, you are truly making a difference in the lives of the millions of clients across our nation.

At Forgive4 Health Ministries, we know that unforgiveness can have a major impact on healthy eating. For example, have you had a fight with a family member and found yourself binge eating, on foods that you know you should avoid? Or had a hard day at work and found yourself drawn to that bar of chocolate? Yes, I am sure that we can all agree that our emotions can influence our dietary habits. Another factor that could sidetrack your plans to follow a healthy diet is unforgiveness. As you might remember, unforgiveness can lead to anger, depression, anxiety, etc. Anger, depression, and anxiety have a tremendous influence on what we eat.

As Forgive4 Health Ministries, we serve many clients who are “emotional eaters”; they reach for comfort foods when they are angry, eat high sugar foods when they are down, and lose all control of their caloric intake over the weekend, because they are lonely. If this sounds like you, then please speak to your local RD for some individualized tips to help with these issues. However, in the meantime, consider the following tips:

• If you are an emotional eater, take our forgiveness test, and if your scores are low, do some self-reflection to identify what might be bothering you, then work to let it go

• Remember that you are what you eat, so choose wisely

• Keep those “danger foods” out of your pantry and refrigerator

• Find a friend to speak to about any issues you might have, and to keep you accountability

If food takes your pain away, then work to find out why that is the case. After all, over time, the accumulation of poor eating and physical inactivity can lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

So, take some time to make small changes that can lead to a healthier life.

Happy nutrition month to all our readers, and remember if unforgiveness is affecting how you are eat, give us a call at 404-500-9204 to see how if any we can help you to let it go, and to start your journey toward a healthier you.

To Good Health!

 

Dr. Meg

 

 

 

A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture: A Call to Action and Forgiveness

Posted by [email protected] on February 8, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

“Black Life, History, and Culture” is the theme for our 2015 Black History Month (BHM). As I reflected on this theme, I could not help but consider the role of forgiveness in getting Blacks to today. Over the last century, African Americans have played significant roles in the shaping of our nation. Blacks can proudly speak about the work of many famous African Americans, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcom X, Maya Angelo, and now President Barack Obama. On this journey, African Americans have witnessed significant successes in the fight for equality; from the founding of the NAACP, through the Journey of Reconciliation, to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we truly have come a long way!

But this is no time to rest on our laurels, for despite these successes, Blacks continue to live with segregation, racism, white privilege, etc. We have protested and started riots for our fair seat on the bus to the recent police brutality, and unfortunately, these stressors continue to take a toll on our health. To this end, Blacks have more chronic diseases than Whites, and many are still dying prematurely. So equality in health has still not been achieved, and health is our biggest resource.

So, while we have come a long way from the days of slavery, beatings, dog bites, and lynching, as a people, we must now embrace the need to forgive those who have hurt us, so that we can live long and healthy lives. Since forgiveness is for us, and not for our transgressors, African Americans should stop during this Black History Month to reflect on their health, consider how unforgiveness could be contributing to chronic health conditions, and take actions to improve their health. After all, good health is not possible, if we live in unforgiveness. Also, collectively, we must remember, that our best revenge is a long and successful life.

This Black History Month won’t you join me in doing the following?

Visit our website at forgive4health.org to complete an assessment to measure your forgiveness level.

Then take the following steps, if your forgiveness scores are low.

R- Recall your hurts

E- Emphasize with those who have hurt you

A- Offer the Altruistic gift of forgiveness to your transgressor

C- Commit to forgive those who have hurt

H- Hold on to forgiveness

Keep praying, and repeating the process described above, until you are free.

Believe me, your health will improve, and you will live a long successful life.

Happy Black History Month!

Dr. Meg

 

 

Forgiveness after Police Brutality and the Miscarriage of Justice in America

Posted by [email protected] on December 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (2)

As an African American mother, stepmother, and grandmother living in the United States, I have experienced the misgivings that many mothers experience when their son/s travel away from the confines and safety of their homes. I have worried myself sick about whether my sons will be arrested for a minor traffic or other infractions, and whether I would see them alive again. A little over ten years ago, I experienced the horror of losing a child to a system that provided him with little safety, because of his race. While we have been unable to prove that a crime was committed (all white witnesses to an unusual drowning in a white college town), we had to bury a 20 year old young adult, a man full of promise, just a few months away from his college graduation. I am not sure whether my son said the words “I can’t breathe”, but know that after years of pain and suffering, with God’s help, we have been able to forgive, and to move on with our lives. The miscarriage of justice in Ferguson, MO and now in New York City have “rubbed salt” in a wound I thought was healed, and like many African Americans, I am shouting the words” Black lives matter”. 


I am angry and fed-up of a criminal system that does the opposite of what it was intended to do. I can no longer stand idly by looking into the racial divide that separate us as a people in the criminal justice, education, economic, and other systems in America. I am furious about the obvious disdain showed to African Americans who were forced to come to this country. Like most Americans in the days and weeks since these grand jury hearings, I have shed tears, shook my first, and cried out to God.


Today, like many African Americans, I continue to be disturbed by the racism and injustice that plagues the American criminal justice system, but know from personal experience, that despite the pain, we as a people must pray for healing and for those who “despitefully use us”. So, as Americans of all color protest the blatant police violence and miscarriage of justice in our land, we pray at Forgive4 Health Ministries that as a people, we will soon find the path to forgiveness and reconciliation. Also, that the planned federal and other investigations will offer Americans an opportunity to heal. After all, forgiveness is not for the police, it for US, so that we can live healthy long lives in an America that will change, not because the authorities made a decision to change, but that God who sees and knows all, will intervene. I end with a request for all African Americans to find it in their hearts to forgive this injustice, so that God can begin the healing that is so badly needed in our land. Only in forgiveness will we find our strength.

Please join me as I “pray for our leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives” (1 Timothy 2:2)

I send best wishes for a Peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Blessings

Dr. Meg

 

Racism, Segregation, Obesity, and Forgiveness

Posted by [email protected] on October 13, 2014 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Presently, racism and segregation are contributing to the higher incidence of obesity among African American women in the United States. Research continues to show that the growing rate of obesity in these women is linked to high rates of hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Many suggest that this ongoing racism and these chronic diseases will shorten the lifespan of these women. So, let’s talk about your experience, if any, with racism and segregation, and the role for forgiveness in keeping us healthy.

Forgiveness and Health

Posted by [email protected] on July 22, 2014 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (2)

Researchers have linked forgiveness to health outcomes  in people of all races. Some of these health outcomes or  ailments include back pain, depression, an increased heart rate, cardiovascular diseases; including hypertension, infections, and even medication abuse.  I am curious whether your health has been affected in anyway by unforgiveness. If yes,  we would love to hear your story. Most importantly, please let us know if you have forgiveness your trangressors,moved on, or if you are still struggling with unforgiveness.

Finally, share with us any life sessions your learned through the process?   Thanks in advance for your participation.

Forgiveness after Divorce

Posted by [email protected] on May 9, 2014 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (6)

Forgiveness is not an easy process, but takes time and effort. Forgiveness is not for the weak, but for the strong. Let no one fool you, this is hard work. In our book " They Speak from the Pain of Divorce: Christians for African American Christians", divorcees were asked whether they had forgiven their ex-spouses and how they would  feel if that person walked into the room.  Comments were varied, but most individuals reported  that they had forgiven their ex-spouses and would be happy to see them.

So, for our first discussion, I would like to hear from you about  your experience with divorce, whether you have forgiven your ex, and how you feel towards and relate to this person?

Please feel free to share your comments with us.  

Forgiveness in the Church

Posted by [email protected] on Comments comments (2)

As Christians, we are commanded to forgive each other, so that we will be forgiven by Christ. In fact, Christ instructs us to leave our offerings at the altar, be reconciled with those who have hurt us,  and then return to the altar to bring our offerings and  gifts. Yet, as many of you have told me, following this command is easier said than done. Of course, we will never be successful in forgiving those who hurt us without the help of the Holy Spirit. So, this month, I would like us to talk a little about forgiveness in the church. Here are my questions to start our conversation. Have you experienced any issues in a church where you struggled to forgive? If yes, how did you get past this? Finally, what tips do you have for others who might be facing this challenge. Blessings for a great August.

Dr. Meg




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