Forgive……..Can You?

Has anyone hurt your feelings or insulted you recently? On purpose? Repeatedly? Are you repeating it over and over in your head and stewing? Thinking of a way to ‘get back’? Feeling more tired, stressed, distracted? OK, that’s a lot of questions. Now for some understanding and solutions.

We are all human and have likely hurt others and have been hurt too. Not forgiving is an option but it costs you. The price is high. Holding a grudge impacts us physically and mentally.   Feeling angry, defensive and wanting to hurt back emanates from part of our primitive, brain. We are attacked and want to reciprocate, a matter of life and death in the animal world. However, a larger brain enables us to consider threats and explore other options when our life is not in danger. Physically, wallowing in hurt and rage can affect our stress level, blood pressure and heart rate, leading to physical ills and perhaps even a somewhat shorter life expectancy. Prolonged resentment is a mental burden.

Forgiveness is a state of mind and enhances our self-esteem and mental health.   To forgive someone is not releasing them from their negative words or behavior.   It is simply  letting go of whatever had a negative impact on us. We can only control our words and behavior and, therefore, free ourselves from the burden of trying to change someone else. We can speak up and let the other person know about the impact on us, ie, not being passive and a victim. If that other person persists, it can be useful to share what occurred to a trusted family member, friend, spiritual guide or therapist. But, then, we need to stop licking our wounds and choose to see the beauty in life and other relationships. Forgiveness allows us the power not to get stuck in the negative. It can free us and bring back peace of mind.

How to?

  • Understand that it is a process and can take time. It gets better with practice.
  • Note how your anger and resentment hurts you.
  • Decide who/what needs forgiveness.
  • Review and try to understand their position.
  • Don’t give them control over your feelings
  • Don’t be a victim.
  • See the value of forgiving and know that it greatly improves your life.

Buddha said that holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else, But you are the one who gets burned.  I say “Toss the coal in the fireplace and enjoy the glow in your life.