THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS!
When we have been hurt and wronged, forgiveness is probably the furthest thing from our minds. To forgive someone is difficult, and sometimes well-nigh impossible, but it is the wise and psychologically smart thing to do. Anger and resentment rob you of your happiness and peace of mind, and if allowed to go on too long, make you a difficult person to be around.
While, of course, there are varying degrees of offences and hurts, and each situation is very different, it is a good idea to keep the following five broad principles in mind when we are faced with the choice to hold on to our hurts or to let them go:
1. Our bitterness ends up hurting us more: As someone very wisely said, “Holding on to bitterness is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die.” It helps to remember that ultimately our anger and resentment end up hurting us much more than the person/persons we are angry at. In fact, the word ‘resentment’ itself comes from the French word ‘ressentir’ which literally means, ‘to feel all over again.’ By holding on to anger and by re-living the memory of the hurt inflicted on us, we end up multiplying its effects.
2. Forgiveness does not mean you agree with wrongdoing. It simply means you make a conscious decision not to let your hurt become the centre of your consciousness and define you as a person. Forgiveness means releasing a person from a debt of hurt. As the author Lewis B. Smedes once said, ”When I forgave, I set a prisoner free, and that’s when I realized that prisoner was me.”
3. Forgiveness is an act of the will more than it is a feeling. Even when we forgive, it is possible that we will continue to feel negative emotion, but we don’t need to keep feeding that emotion. And if we stop adding ‘fuel to the fire’, the fire will die out.
4. It helps to remember that we are fallible too. We, too, have done things to hurt others. Remembering that goes a long way in keeping us humble and avoiding falling into the trap of self-righteousness that blinds us to our own faults.
5. Believe that all things work together for our good. No matter how awful a situation is or how deeply we have been wronged, it helps to remember that everything we go through in life teaches us something. That is probably the last thing we want to hear when grappling with a wrong done to us, but if we can decant the lessons from even the toughest circumstances, we will eventually be the better for it and much, much happier.
Have a great week!