I believe the word “forgive” is largely misunderstood. Based upon the opinions and conversations I have either been a party to, read or even overheard, I believe that too many people nowadays mistakenly think that to forgive is to approve; and to approve is to accept as satisfactory.
If you have been wronged, and are operating under the misconception that to forgive is to accept the wrong as satisfactory, then of course you are likely to withhold “forgiveness”. However, the genuine act of forgiving simply means you are choosing to release the feelings of hurt, anger and resentment, which is a gift to yourself more than it ever could be to another.
There is a well known Buddhist proverb which teaches us that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. So for you to have been wronged and potentially allow the experience to harden you, close you to others and embitter you (however permanently or temporarily), is only harmful to you, and those who love you and must watch it's negative influence preside. As you live your newly bile-fuelled, mistrustful life, complete with withering personal and working relationships, do you suppose for a moment the Perpetrator is feeling as bad as you do? Invariably the Perpetrator will be oblivious to the self-inflicted harm you're causing to yourself, so why not re-frame your thoughts and choose the road less travelled?
Sadly, it's all too socially acceptable these days to be angry, impatient, intolerant, entitled and demanding, so stomping around avenging (often perceived) wrongs is equally de rigueur. Our Jeremy Kyle generation is being bombarded with negative reinforcement that it's okay to be angry, to stomp and demand. I stopped watching EastEnders over twenty years ago because the writers were under the impression that their audience needed unrelenting arguments, violence and high drama to be entertained – but this breeds more of the same. Here's a wholly unscientific experiment for you to conduct, if you are ever so inclined: watch one episode of EastEnders and count how many times a question is answered with a question. How much aggression is scripted in, how much violence (overt or implied) is considered entertainment, every night of the week? I dare suggest all mass appeal programmes are the same, and would dearly love to know where the wit, charm and intelligence has gone from film and television these days, but that's a blog for another day.
My point here is that we are breeding generations who retaliate first, and not even ask questions later. There is so little thinking or deep consideration going on, and it frightens the bejesus out of me. It's little wonder the concept of forgiveness has been so widely corrupted.
To live your life consumed by anger, hurt and resentment is akin to lugging two over-stuffed suitcases around with you wherever you go; it'll exhaust you and perhaps even make you ill. One thing is for sure, your Perpetrator is not going to help you carry that load, collect your prescriptions or await medical test results with you. If you choose to poison your system with anger, the potential consequences are yours to bear – but why would you, if you have a choice not to? And it is a choice. You will always have a choice.
Nelson Mandela was wrongfully imprisoned under the apartheid regime for 27 years, which is reason enough for the great man to have been embittered and resentful. However, Mr Mandela invited his prison guard, Christo Brand, to his inauguration as President of South Africa, because: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn't leave my hatred and bitterness behind, I'd still be in prison”. Nelson Mandela will be forever revered, whilst the apartheid regime which imprisoned him has long since died.
Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, more than to any other. Many people seem to believe that to forgive a Perpetrator “lets them off the hook”, when in reality it lets you off the hook, it saves you from carrying a vast weight that you really don't need to carry. It is a choice, and it might not be easy, it may take time and considerable endeavour, but it will be worth it.
No one is asking you to “accept as satisfactory”; by all means acknowledge how unsatisfactory it all is, but don't choose to lug it around with you in perpetuity. To forgive simply means to let go of the negative thoughts and feelings which will impact upon your life more than any other. And as for revenge, forget it, let Karma deal with your Perpetrator under the Law of Cause and Effect. As they say, Karma's a bitch, but only if you are, so keep your Karma clean, and get on with you making your life was rich and wonderful as it can be. After all, isn't your success the best revenge?
There is also another perspective to be looking at the issue of forgiveness, and that is through the lens of The Law of Attraction. In essence, whilst you're choosing to plunge yourself into all things negative, hurtful and furious, you're attracting more of the same. This is yet another reason why revenge isn't the answer to anything, because you will only perpetuate the thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviours you're railing against in the first place!
It is therefore more healthy, positive and productive to turn this on its head and seek peace, harmony and reconciliation wherever possible. By sending and giving in the spirit of love and light, you will attract more love and light, so why wouldn't you if given the choice? No one's soul wants to live in squalor, so I will leave you with these words from Mahatma Gandhi...
Keep your thoughts positive
Because your thoughts become words.
Keep your words positive
Because your words become your behaviour
Keep your behaviour positive
Because your behaviour becomes your habits
Keep your habits positive
Because your habits become your values
Keep your values positive
Because your values become your destiny
I'm here to help you, so if you would like some back-up and support with the issues that may be present in your life at the moment, then please call me on 01536 601749 (and leave a message if I'm with a client or if it's out of hours), or visit the Let's Talk! page on this website.
I will look forward to helping you soon