GLENDORA, Calif. (KABC) --Forgiving someone or forgiving yourself can be a powerful action. A wealth of studies show it can boost mental and physical health, and learning to let go can help you live a healthier life.
As a child of divorced parents, 45-year-old Coco Owchar of Glendora said she struggled to create her dream family life, and when obstacles got in her way, she would revert to feeling like a hurt child.
"Here I am trying to start this life and I was getting stuck again and I put on over 60 pounds. I asked why am I stuck here. Well, because I was angry," Owchar explained.
Owchar turned to life coach Diane Altomare who reminded her that what happens in childhood tends to dominate how people feel about themselves and others.
"We make that mean something about us and then we carry that throughout life," Altomare said. "We then attract these circumstances or relationships that mirror that exact thing."
Altomare wrote in her new book "Clarity" that forgiveness is the solution.
"Because when we don't forgive somebody, we are holding on to all that anger and it's hurting us," she said.
Studies show practicing forgiveness not only helps with high blood pressure and heart disease, it could also reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.
Altomare said the first steps to forgiveness are compassion and acceptance.
"In your everyday life, just understanding that if they are hurting you, it's because they're hurt," Altomare explained.
A powerful tool in Altomare's book is to visualize a circle of resentment between you and another person. Negativity makes that circle bigger. Anything you say either connects you or pushes you away.
"It gives you a moment to just stop and think about what you're about to put in the circle between the two of you," Altomare said.
Owchar, a married mother of two, now has a growing fitness and nutrition business. She said forgiveness helped set her free.
"It's not about who's wrong and who's right. That just wastes time," Owchar said.