“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.” Buddha
Forgiveness is the intentional process where the victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offence and decides to let go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. This does not necessarily mean you become friends with the wrongdoer but there is peace on the side of the victim. It’s a complicated grace that uncomplicates your anger to help you see beauty again. Big job though.
To forgive and forget; is it that easy? Can you forgive someone that has hurt you or let you down? Forgiveness maybe easier but forgetting maybe not. I guess we are not designed to forget as every experience in life is a lesson.
It’s not easy to let go. Some of the young people I have worked with have trouble letting go of grudges big or small. These grudges often get ugly and can end in violence and the only person who really suffers is the one holding on and it’s not healthy. Carrying negative emotions only eat up our energy and can manifest in ill health.
I did a classical activity of a young lad who was very angry. He had got into a fight and said he was going get the other lad over something trivial to adults but to him, it was the end of the world. I gave him so time to cool off. Then I made him carry a book in his hand with his arm outstretched and at first, it didn’t hurt. After 10 minutes I asked him if it hurt and he said yes, but he carried on holding it until it hurt so much that he let it go. He shook his hands, and then, shook hands the hands with the lad who was really taken back by this. At the end of the day, no one really wants to fight. Be bigger than that.
How about forgiving abusers that have caused trauma? It is more challenging to let go but can be achieved. I have been inspired by the courageous Katy Morgan-Davis who was brought up in a cult where she was abused emotionally by the cult leader whom later she discovered was her dad. Katy made the choice to forgive and move on after her release 30 years later. Her sheer strength to move on is an example of getting her life back. Holding on to hatred would have been a mind prison.
How about forgiving a murder or someone who has taken away so much? There are endless parents who have forgiven their child’s killer. But why? What do they get from it? I guess peace. Holding on only creates chains and by forgiving you are no longer putting energy into the pain. Nothing can ever bring back a loved one but holding on can only cause pain. I admire people that can forgive. They are the heroes.
Forgiving yourself also comes into the equation. We are not perfect and all have a past where we may have hurt someone with the intention or not. If a heartfelt sorry does not suffice then let that go too. But do forgive your past. The past is gone so drop it.