A Brain on Forgiveness

      56 Comments on A Brain on Forgiveness

Most people have been judged in ways that bring to question their very mission in life. Far fewer find an amygdala‘s mental tools to forgive, accept without expectations, and move on. cool mita image

Well  beyond  harsh judgments  or words that leave you feeling like a  slug on skid row,  lies the brain’s  ability to embrace genuine reconciliation. Need to forgive, be forgiven, or both?

Good news  – your brain comes with equipment that  segues into peace and recaptures gratitude, hope and joy.  It’s rarely easy to pardon though, and has little to do with showing your side of a story in defense. Rather than recycle guilt,  see yourself – along with others – as worthy of care without demands for change as a condition.

Forgiveness literally alters the brain’s wiring – away from distortions brought about by the past,  and beyond fears that limit the future. It leads from misery of a broken promise, to wellness that builds new neuron pathways into physical, emotional and spiritual well being.

How do brains forgive?

From a brain’s perspective, forgiveness takes far more than merely letting go. It takes deliberate decisions to move beyond another person’s  judgment of you.   Replace a sad or disappointing encounter with memories of events that stoke healing, for instance, and your brain shifts focus.

The willingness to drop any need to blame diminishes your need to explain your perspective.  A brain forgives as a commitment to understand the other side, to feel empathy for another, or to regain compassion for a person you care about who hurt you.

The event that caused conflict in the first place may not change, but forgiveness opens new segues into empathy, delight, and care for another person. Pardon designs mental escape routes  for your thoughts – that may otherwise  be relegated into corners that distrust or fear.

Forgiveness rarely opens  another person’s eyes to see your inner value.  Nor does it validate hurtful words or callous acts.  To exonerate is not even to quell harsh judgments.  It simply adds a peace that allows you to move on, and to embrace your mission with new delight.

Forgiving brains fuel unconditional love. How so? Speak of another’s genuine value,  rather than replay disappointment’s darts – and sorrow fades from the brain’s amygdala, like clouds float off on a sunny day.

Mental benefits emerge in forgiveness

Crave healthier relationships? Rewired brains can unleash kindness without demands, or enjoy perceptions not colored by past perspectives. Since care cannot co-exist in human brains alongside attempts to change another, simply enjoy each moment without such limitations.

Long to find new freedom with those you value most? One way to let go of hurts is to replace grudges with generosity.  Make kindness more important than hostility.  Extend gestures of care to others and you’ll rewire the brain from victim modes,  into habits that default to healthy relationships.

Not everybody will value your strengths, and those you love most will likely spot your flaws first. Convert compassion into  daily practices that show care though, and  expect well being to follow. Project images, words and icons of acceptance, and these gradually become your perception of people who differ from you. Your brain rewires to delight in differences!

Stress defaults to unforgiveness

Stress comes from hostility – and while it gets dubbed by many names stress shrinks the brain and anxiety drains mental life. Simply stated,  stress flips your brain into shutdown or shotgun mode. Cortisol chemicals fuel all such stressful states, in ways that rob your courage to communicate kindness or show genuine care you feel.

Sadly, you may have defaulted to ruts or triggered further problems. How so? Research shows  dangerous effects of cultivating cortisol reactions in human brains. Here’s the skinny –   stress from unforgiveness may mask as savior, but it strikes as killer!

Forgiveness, restores past wonder, because it leads to:

  • Healthy relationships where others see efforts to make peace larger than personal gain.
  • Restoration of a past relationship that you broke or damaged by missteps you may not even understand.
  • Fewer loneliness tanks and higher spiritual and psychological peaks to wellbeing
  • Stress-free friendships that sidestep hostilities by yielding personal desires for shared harmony
  • Fewer risks associated with depression, stress, and substance abuse that follows

Brains holding grudges slow to the speed of a slug

Most people want trusted relationships, yet many seem unable to attain these, because fear confuses people and distorts perceptions about what’s going on. When hurt by people you trust and love, your brain slips into confusion and sadness tends to follow.

Replay painful incidents mentally, or dwell on hurtful  events, and negative feelings begin to crowd out possibilities and you may drown in a sense of sorrow or regret.  The brain’s basal ganglia  stores every reaction to severe disappointments.  And if negative or bitter – these reactions limit your chances for finding well-being in a similar situation.

Brainwaves slow to a grind and serotonin supplies diminish under excessive weights of a grudge. Over time feelings of anger, sadness or resentment can rob your contentment, because these can form the engine that drives behavior.  If you repeatedly find yourself drowning in a sense of injustice or bitter disappointment – you may create a pattern of bitterness.

Toxins will follow you into new relationships, and the cost tends to be far higher than the pain of disappointment. Your actions become tainted by the sense of loss – so that you lose sight of your ability to enjoy the present. Unable to understand your feelings, you use anger to cover up your hurt.

Depression and anxiety spring from an inability to forgive. You begin to sense your life lacks meaning to others you love most, and you seem to be at odds with all that you hold dear. Unless checked – you begin to lose ongoing connections with those you care about most.

Holidays can be the worst time for depression and loneliness to spawn! But it doesn’t have to be this way, if you create space for mindfulness, stress shrinks by default!

How does the brain deal with forgiveness?

Laugh more as you keep alive in you – that three year old – active, curious and ready to be surprised by joy from others. To forgive is to choose change and graciousness in spite of conflict or accusations encountered. The first stage of forgiveness is the awareness that to forgive is far greater than the need to be right. It’s typically about your calm reactions to conflict rather than about gaining ground in a difficult situation.

Forgiveness is measured in health and well being – in spite of injustices and disappointments. To forgive a person who judges or hurts you is to refuse the role of victim and to unleash a new chemical and electrical circuitry for letting go of grudges. Once you leap past hurdles of anger or grief, you often find yourself ready to enter new doors of compassion and understanding for others who face let-downs or disappointments.

If you demand justice as a door into well being, you’ll likely find it harder to forgive folks who fail to see the problem or admit the pain it caused. If you value a person deeply, forgiving that person is likely  harder because your amygdala stores its memory and your mind replays each sting. It takes a stronger desire for integrity, peace and wellbeing to move forward.

You can sense forgiveness if you no longer feel stress or tension in that person’s presence. No longer will you need to be understood, when you begin to understand, what Khalil Gibrand pointed out:

If you love somebody, let them go.  If they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were.

Here’s where an open mind helps to sustain forgiveness – and it doesn’t depend on another person feeling regret or sharing in your hurt. Admit your own mistakes quickly and treat others as if you walked in their shoes when conflicts arise. The brain responds with a warmth of compassion, care and curiosity – as forgiveness reconnects you to people you cherish.

Ever see entire communities flourish, when one or two people project  mind-bending forgiveness?

Related tool: Yearly planner with brain boosters and prompts to reboot your brain so that you tap and develop hidden and unused capabilities.

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56 thoughts on “A Brain on Forgiveness

  1. eweber Post author

    Good point, 3SecondsOfHope and thanks for stopping by. It takes courage to forgive, and it takes finding the inner strength to be good to yourself as well. People who care about and nurture their own wellbeing, are better situated find inner resources to care about and forgive others. What do you think? Best, Ellen

  2. 3SecondsOfHope

    “To forgive a person who judges or hurts you is to refuse the role of victim”

    Love this 🙂 Lets take our power back and start living our lives, instead of playing a victim….

  3. Sharon

    I read an article on forgiveness a while ago & was looking for it when I found this. It’s all very interesting! What the article was talking about was the effect of the brain when a person goes to sleep in unforgiveness. It stated something along the lines of: if you forgive an offense before going to bed at night, it’s gone. However, if you don’t, it starts a process of leaving an imprint there that changes the brain in some ways. I know I’m not verbalizing this well at all & your article goes right along with that but do you know what I’m talking about? I want to be able to explain what happens & I’m not doing very good at this… lol I can’t seem to find the article & really want a better understanding . . .

  4. Pingback: The conversation of Forgiveness continues « Rev. Randall's Notebook

  5. eweber Post author

    Glial cells are quite unknown in many circles, John. We know that while glial cells don’t share the nerve impulses of neurons – they support and protect (or insulate) neurons in several key ways. There are many more glial cells in the brain than neurons.

    You make quite a leap to design a thesis on “the reasons spiritual healing is not accepted in the Western Evangelical Church,” John. Interesting.

    Interesting question John, “I am looking into the question of do they (Glial Cells) activate/react in answer to forgiveness as a trigger?”

    It’s not an area of mine – since I connect a person’s expressions of spirit and faith more in one’s intrapersonal intelligence and have shown links to brain parts here in this post – but have not seen specific links between forgiveness and glial cells. Good luck with your thesis. Ellen

  6. John S

    Hi Ellen,
    I am currently writing a thesis on the reasons spiritual healing is not accepted in the Western Evangelical Church. In a nutshell healing ministries are not able to subject themselves to academic examination (which I am willing to be as I am one of “those” ministers). I am gathering information about the brain and its activity during the act of choosing to forgive. Could you tell me what you know about Glial Cells and their activities in the brain and have these cells been linked into the forgiving process?
    They have multiple ‘maintenance’ functions but what do you know in terms of specific activation?
    I am looking into the question of do they (Glial Cells) activate/react in answer to forgiveness as a trigger?
    Your thoughts would be very welcome.
    Thanks

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  10. Shellie Tomlinson

    Wonderful article. I’m personally studying forgiveness right now and I can’t tell you how closely this article follows the Bible Study I’m preparing. I’m the host of a radio talk show, ATS LIVE. If you’re interested, I’d love to try and set up a date for you to call in and chat. You can find all my contact info at my site. Blessings~
    Shellie

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  13. eweber Post author

    Your wisdom here would open a brilliant book on this topic. Yes, forgiveness is a gift to oneself!”

    I am intrigued by your notion that – “Forgiveness occurs naturally when stress is transformed. For years, I tried to forgive someone – it was in the “trying” that I was unable to do it. When I transform my stress, forgiveness is a natural by-product.”

    Needs for reflection – but that is the way of forgiveness. It takes time and thought and communication with others that you trust on the topic!
    Your story speaks to so many of us: “Miraculously, one morning, I awakened to have the realization that I no longer had that strong you-done-me-wrong charge against that person. It was both liberating and energizing!”

    Love your metaphor – “for people to learn what goes on under-the-hood, and then realize that they can become master “mechanics.” Now I see why you rock Marianna! Thanks for sharing this melody!

  14. Marianna Paulson

    Forgiveness is freeing. Forgiveness is a gift to oneself. Forgiveness is an attachment to an idea, person, place that no longer serves.

    Forgiveness occurs naturally when stress is transformed. For years, I tried to forgive someone – it was in the “trying” that I was unable to do it. When I transform my stress, forgiveness is a natural by-product.

    Miraculously, one morning, I awakened to have the realization that I no longer had that strong you-done-me-wrong charge against that person. It was both liberating and energizing!

    “You can sense forgiveness if you no longer feel stress or tension in that person’s presence.” That’s a much more joyful and productive place to be.

    Thank you for your on-going educational encouragement, Ellen. It’s so important for people to learn what goes on under-the-hood, and then realize that they can become master “mechanics”.

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  16. moses

    Of all the posts I have gone through ,this one is that has opened the lens to my inner brains.religiously and scientifically they all apply .once again thank you

    regards ,

    Moses,kenya

    1. eweber Post author

      Thanks for weighing in Moses. Isn’t it amazing that humans across the world share strikingly similar situations. It’s why we need to cultivate even more diversity as a way to find solutions to shared challenges! Again thanks 🙂

  17. eweber Post author

    Greta you build a good case for forgiveness that guarantees no rewards from another person’s compassion or care or warmth in return. I agree with you that loving memories reminds us of what we enjoyed with a loved one, and motivate forgiveness that hopefully restores freedom, friendship and delight.

    First, let me say I am sorry that you were let down deeply, and it makes me sad to admit that I too have been careless at times in not finding more ways to put others first, and to avoid harmful judgments so they could grow and prosper.

    Would you agree that it takes a lifetime to master the art of kindness and non-judgment that prevents such harm as you describe here. From the brain’s perspective – it can be done and from a human perspective – it’s worth rewiring:-).

    In my next post – I will discuss another angle you’d enjoy – as I show how the brain uses “perspective” either to promote growth or to rob talents you need to move forward. In the meantime – stay blessed Greta!

  18. Greta Oehlert

    This begs the question for me then, how to forgive someone who has done you wrong, but with whom you have no relationship. I can forgive my husband, son, mother, father and friends for many indiscretions based on my love for them, past loving memories and the hope of more good memories to come. But what about someone I do not know, do not like and with whom I am not likely to have any future relationship? I would like to forgive and move on for my own sake, if nothing else. But how to do that when someone I having nothing but contempt for has caused irreparable harm in my life?

  19. eweber Post author

    Carmen, not only are you not alone, but answers are less distant than most of us think:-) Not that we can change others – but we can change in ways that make the difference that counts:-)

    The brain responds with a warmth of compassion, care and curiosity – as forgiveness reconnects us to people we cherish. That’s more than enough for most of us, it’s just that we miss its magic often, because toxins in the amygdala prevent us from opening our lives to the wonder of closeness we crave.

    So glad you harnessed it today – and now inspired the rest of us to do the same. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

  20. Carmen

    Thank you very much for this article. I had a conflict with my best friend this morning. I chose forgiveness. and when I read this article I felt much better, because I knew that my choice was right.

  21. Ellen Weber

    Thanks Patrick, Love the marriage between gratitude and forgiveness! After a lifetime study, research, travel and testing brainpowered tools, I see amazing tools that could build better relationships.

    Sadly, many people who cherish relationships, nevertheless run from them because they cannot seem to make them work. Others demolish them by trying too hard, or giving into the brain’s darker sides that can lead to depression – but block any attempts to give to folks we cherish.

    Would you agree that even our precious kids and grandkids often teach us daily – how to grow stronger together, look past the blunders we all make, and remain together as forgiveness works its magic in brains and lives.

  22. Patrick

    I have been deep into the study of gratitude and forgiveness for several years. I have read mountains of research on the topic, and put it to the test personally, and I must say this was one of the most accurate and inspiring reads on forgiveness I have ever read. This is monumental and life changing knowledge for everyone on earth to have and gradually as we start to re-wire our brains individually toward forgiveness I believe the effect will be contagious the world can change!
    Thank you Ellen for this wonderful post!

  23. eweber Post author

    Gay I am so glad you dropped by as we learn the best things together, and often through our own missteps. We struggle, make mistakes and then come back to remind ourselves that people we love most in life are more than worth whatever it takes to keep bonds alive.

    We cannot change another but forgiveness helps up to hold out hope for love that was once there. We can cherish the closeness whenever we have it, hopefully without losing our own anchors in the process.

    The brain is amazingly resilient it turns out, which is both bad and good. While it stores and replays painful memories of loss and disappointment – it also leaps to kindness and care expressed.

    Interestingly, flaws of the past are more quickly forgotten when a new encounter is pleasant. The opposite is also true. Wonders of the past fast fade (even a lifetime’s investment) when any new encounter goes sour.

    To navigate valued relationships is to capitalize more on pleasant encounters and trust in the human brain to yield its help (as one valuable tool among many) to help us forgive when “stuff” strikes and hurts.

    All the best as you take comfort in preserving your own sense of self and your own sense of dignity. As you choose to continue investing – changing – and remaining open to the hope that holds family love together, that wonderful bond can revive. What do you think?

  24. Gay N Gooen

    Dear Ellen:

    What a wonderful way for me to find you — while searching for forgiveness within myself. A dear and close relative is often angry, outspoken, and often insensitive (to the point of being cruel) to others. You have provided me some deeper understanding of the value of finding our forgiving place, and anchoring there.

    Thank you for this wonderful thinking and writing. I’ll be back, to learn and to share.

    Sincerely,

    Gay

    Gay N. Gooen, MSW

  25. eweber Post author

    Hey Hussain, so glad you dropped into check out links between brains and the good stuff!

    A riviting quote and thanks! “A well developed brain is one that listens to the heart and in this regard, knowing that forgiveness is the stuff of the heart and that the brain has to connect with the heart in order for genuine forgiveness to occur, you shed light on how to look inward and experience authentic growth as the brain re-wires in the process of forgiving.”

    Your work integrates the innards of mind and heart as does the Mita approach — by looking at new neuro discoveries that link intrapersonal intelligence with its emotions and proclivities to logical intelligence with its delight for facts and figures!

    When we apply one with regard to the other — we begin to find the balance that brains are capable of attaining. I love the fact that forgiveness is one of the key benefits included in such balance, yet it’s respected thinkers like you who inspire us with that fact:-)

  26. eweber Post author

    Kare, I love the title Forgive for Good! Wow that sounds like a dynamite book to read.

    By the way – this lively discussion just got richer because you took time to engage us and offer another look at the possibilities forgiveness offers!

    Would you agree, Kare, that this topic is worth reflection on a rather regualr basis:-)? So exciting to see others who care out its wonders too! Thanks!

  27. Hussain B. Ahmed

    Great write up, Ellen, on the connection between forgiveness and the brain. As an ancient Egyptian saying goes: A well developed brain is one that listens to the heart and in this regard, knowing that forgiveness is the stuff of the heart and that the brain has to connect with the heart in order for genuine forgiveness to occur, you shed light on how to look inward and experience authentic growth as the brain re-wires in the process of forgiving. Great stuff, thanks.
    Hussain.

  28. Kare Anderson

    Ellen
    Years ago my friend Stephanie Evans helped Fred L at Stanford recruit people for his research on forgiveness that resulted in a moving book, one of my favorites (Steph helped craft the title): Forgive For Good

    And reading these heartfelt, intelligent comments is so affirming to see who you have pulled into your orbit as our friend Whitney has so vividly characterized it… 🙂

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  31. Dan Oestreich

    What, me a master of forgiveness??? Hardly, and you so rightly point out, Ellen, that letting go of the emotional hold a grudge can be a matter of life-learning that is definitely life-long. Somebody else in the thread here may have already repeated that oft cited line about grudges: “It’s like drinking rat poison and then expecting the RAT to die.” The line works because the hold is so strong we just keep drinking the poison.

    Two thoughts come to mind: one is that part of the hold is letting go of an illusion that somehow our punishment of the other person (and self) represents a “win” of some kind. But what in fact do we win?

    The other thought is about a process I once witnessed at a workshop in which a participant unearthed every negative thought she could think of about her awful sister and what her awful sister had done to her. When she was done writing it all down — it took an hour to do so — she looked at her list and asked herself how much of what she had written was, in fact, true. Exhausted, she realized almost none of it was, and she also realized her years-long grudge had certainly helped her cover up her own sense of responsibility for the estrangement. Once that was in the open, she felt free to carefully begin her own self-designed process of reconciliation. The lesson seemed to be that grudges have a self-perpetuating quality to them, but if we look at them once, whole, and for what they really are, it’s certainly possible to break the cycle — coming back to the sense of our own wholeness underneath it all.

  32. eweber Post author

    Thanks Denise — the meshing together of what we know about brains, and what we’re learning about life is especially critical in an age where we become problem solvers across many silos that used to require hard or soft skills only. Such integration is central to using brainpowered tools because most workplace problems we encounter take wisdom from both sides of the brain. Nuff said – but thanks for weighing in.

  33. eweber Post author

    Julie — your story is deeply moving and it shows the brain in places we hold it for years of struggle before we let go of what we cannot change.

    When I work within toxic workplaces – I see many people holding many grudges unaware, and yet I also see how easy that is to hold onto what’s hard to let go or understand.

    Would you agree there is also a place in all this of forgiving oneself for not being able to measure up to another’s expectations? Some folks try for years to be what others demand of them in order to be accepted. Would you agree the brain gains and grows from forgiving self as well?

  34. eweber Post author

    Susan, thanks for the lovely reminder of choice – that is rarely easy at times, and takes a finer step back that we often take during the grind of a busy day.

    Without doing so, when there is a need for forgiving, we run in circles. As I read your post it dons on me that with practice one could live in a more constant state of forgiveness since the brain would begin to pattern itself to keep very short accounts:-) What do you think?

  35. eweber Post author

    You make a great case for the depth of an intrapersonal plunge here Dan, and I agree with you completely. Thanks, I’d never really thought about the connections here between brain and forgiveness until recently.

    Yet, many times the stress we face masks the grudges we hold. To let go, may mean letting go of a dream, a hope, or even a person one loves deeply, as dozens of folks remind us.

    As you infer, the deeper plunges we take tend to resonate with what we test and live and reflect on most. I wish I could say my own forgiveness skills here were at mastery – but I am learning new avenues daily as I continue to see and understand and live the connections and the letting go. You?

  36. Julie G

    Hi Ellen,
    I enjoyed your article. I have 2 sisters and the 3 of us did not speak to our father for many years for a variety of reasons related to old wounds. I “forgave” my dad…and it seemed easier to forgive for me than the not forgiving was for my sisters. The forgiving i put in quotes, because it is called forgiving…but it felt more like letting go of darkness and moving into light. It did feel like a choice that I made…and for whatever reason it took me 9 years to choose to let go and move into the light…or to come to the place of understanding that letting go was kinder, gentler, more in line with being my best self….once I realized and knew that to be true for me, it was easy to forgive…to let go of the past and step into the present moment more fully. It was a beautiful experience. I wish it for all people…thank you for your article that reminds us how much we gain and grow from forgiving…

  37. Dan Oestreich

    I believe there is more in this post than your personal knowledge of the brain, Ellen. You are here in a different more real way. I do not mean at all to judge and especially not to demean what you know and who you are. I just sense that you have crossed a boundary — and that makes all the difference.

  38. Susan Mazza

    Such an eloquent explanation of the power of forgiveness Ellen. I often talk with people about the power of choice. You provide such a great explanation here of just how a significant choice like forgiving can be in our overall experience of life. When we make such a choice we are literally choosing to rewire our brains. It is very empowering to know we have that much power over our own wiring.

  39. Dr. Ada

    In my experience working with people that need to forgive, I think it’s partly the wanting instant relief, and also the reluctance to take the time and make the effort. Helping them design a path with specific steps and behaviors seems to help.

    And thanks for taking a look at my blog and liking it.

  40. eweber Post author

    It helps us all to remember that forgiveness is a process, because the way we think and act will fuel or curtail that process.

    Do you think it’s hardest for people to understand, because they want instant relief – or because they cannot see how takes time and what efforts work best.

    For example, we cannot compel another person to forgive us – and yet the benefits of forgiveness are still well worth the effort, as you suggest. .
    So glad you stopped by Dr. Ada! Love you sense of focus on one behavior you want to change at http://logosnoesis.com/1-simple-strategy-for-change

  41. eweber Post author

    Agree Sainath, Does forgiveness come easier (as you see it) to folks of faith – who find strength in being unconditionally loved by God?

  42. Dr. Ada

    Great post Ellen. Certainly forgiveness is a process. That seems to be the hardest for my clients to understand. People want instant relief. They forget that a process takes time and effort. But, as you well point out, the benefits of forgiveness are well worth the effort. And the perils for our wellbeing if we don’t forgive are too dire to ignore.

    Will certainly share your post with others. Thanks!

    Dr. Ada

  43. Ingrid Ozols

    Thank you Ellen, this is a fabulous article – most helpful, insightful and empowering. As the old saying goes – knowledge is power!

    I look forward to reading more of your wonderful work.

    Regards from Down Under,
    Ingrid

  44. Ellen Weber

    Ned, thanks for your kind words. You build a good case for acting fast on forgiveness before the inferno. Yikes — too often we can feel those flames without realizing our own minds fueled them:-) Appreciate the inspiration!

  45. Ellen Weber

    Ahhh Whitney, what a cool idea to engage folks on how their brains offer new tools when they may need them most.

    I find this is a lesson I need rather regular refreshers on – and still I’m rarely ready when I should be:-) Perhaps the same impulses that keep us curious about a brain’s innards, also keep us alive to its wonders!

  46. Ellen Weber

    Thanks Robyn, it amazes me how the brain teaches us and challenges us daily to see its wonders for rejuvenated living. It’s an adventure and privilege to see how it works when we need it most, and yet one senses there is still so much unexplored frontier.

  47. Ned Kumar

    Ellen,
    Just wanted to say that this was one of the best posts I have read in terms of touching my heart. Having been through many ups and downs I can personally attest to many of the points you have mentioned here.

    I have myself realized through some harsh experience that learning to forgive is one of the toughest lesson to master but one that can open doors within yourself as you find new strengths and pathways that you never knew existed.

    Also I have realized that there is nothing wrong with being a mortal and having a ‘sickening’ or ‘negative’ feeling once in a while but as you mention the key is not to fuel that kindle into a raging inferno.

    Once again, thanks very much for sharing your thoughts.

    Regards,
    Ned (@nedkumar)

  48. Robyn McMaster

    Ellen, what an amazing post! Your words spring from your spirit and connect that inner wisdom with insights from life as well. By showing how all of this affects the human brain, and the part the brain plays, you open a window of understanding through a whole new lens. Thanks.

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