Revenge is the desire to get even when someone does you wrong. It’s natural to feel angry, however, holding on to the grievance and “punishing” the other person closes your heart and contracts your body and spirit. In this state of contraction you lose touch with the goodness within you. Research also shows that revenge increases stress and impairs health and immunity.
When we are unable to forgive we create dis-ease and illness.
Forgiveness is giving up the desire to punish someone or yourself for an offense. We let go of judging the person who caused the hurt. Instead of revenge and resentment we choose understanding and kindness. In forgiveness, we don’t forget that the offense occurred nor do we excuse it. Forgiveness is a choice and act of will to free ourselves.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Louis B. Smedes
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” – Paul Boese
“Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” – Roberto Assagioli
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – The Buddha
Here are 4 steps that have worked for me in working through forgiving myself or an other:
1. Acknowledge what happened and let yourself feel the anger and the hurt. We must feel anger before we can begin to forgive. You can’t rush forgiveness. If something has happened some time ago, your distress is coming from the thoughts within you now, not from what offended or hurt you in the past.
It is your current thinking that is causing more and more struggle. You have the power to change your thoughts.
2. Make a decision to forgive or not. Do I want to hold on to resentment or let it go? Do I really want to feel like this? We are under no obligation or pressure to forgive. However, holding a grudge becomes a debilitating drain on our health and can poison our outlook on life. We become a prisoner to it.
When we truly forgive, we are doing it for our own sake, not the other person’s. It is the most important step in healing ourselves from the hurt of the past.
Forgiving brings us the gift of peace.
3. Seek to understand. Can I see the other person’s perspective or point of view? You don’t need to accept or agree with them at all. Remember that we all want to be happy. To be loved and accepted. How we go about it is based on our own life experiences and upbringing. A bully has almost always been bullied themselves.
People who are causing us pain are usually in pain. This is the human condition.
4. Shift your own perspective. What do I want this pain to turn into? Instead of going over in your mind why something happened, or how horrible the actions were, visualize what your life will be like after the pain is gone.
Start seeking ways to get what you want. Look for love, beauty and kindness around you. Its there!
By letting go of the anger and resentment within you and replacing it with kindness, you become free. Free to be you – and no longer a victim defined by an other’s actions.