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How to Forgive a Friend

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http://www.womenshealthmag.com - I'd never imagined our friendship would end, and certainly not like this. But on an otherwise ordinary afternoon, a scathing missive arrived from one of my best pals: a litany of my flaws and mistakes, along with my most mortifying secrets, amassed over the years we'd known each other and thrown back in my face.



What prompted this vicious e-mail attack? A friendship I'd struck up with someone my close friend—unbeknownst to me—had a brutal grudge against.



For days afterward, I walked around dazed, alternating between grief over our falling-out and a growing anger at her cruel words. But I didn't realize which of the two feelings was stronger until my phone rang weeks later. Sounding humbled, she asked if we could talk.



I considered her request for all of three seconds...then hung up.



Getting Your Grudge On

In a perfect world, everyone would be high-minded enough to move past petty pals, scheming coworkers, and lyin', cheatin' mates. But when someone you love and trust hurts you, it's like taking a sucker punch to your emotional six-pack.



Withholding forgiveness is a way of doling out justice and letting the other person know that his or her bad behavior has repercussions. But consider this: Forgiveness isn't just good for your soul, it can be good for your health too. According to research that appeared in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, people with more forgiving personalities tend to have less stress, lower blood pressure, better sleep quality, less depression, and stronger immune systems to boot. Maybe that's because carrying a grudge is kind of like walking around with a 20-pound weight on your shoulders: The only person who is really being punished is you. "People think forgiveness is an act of kindness toward another person," explains Marina Cantacuzino, founder and director of The Forgiveness Project, an international organization that is devoted to fostering a culture of nonretribution. "But it isn't—you do it primarily for yourself."

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