Feelings of bitterness and revenge are like heavy stones we carry around on our backs. And if we are reluctant to throw these stones onto the ground and walk away from them, we will not only exhaust ourselves; the load will also increase because of new painful life experiences. Eventually, we will carry even more stones until we can not bear the weight anymore and collapse. A feeling of anger can consume all the happiness and joy in someone's life. We believe that experiencing some form of revenge is the only way to get rid of resentment however, things do not work that way.
Both the past and other people are unchangeable. As Viktor Frankl wisely stated,
When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves.
Our mental health remains unaffected by taking revenge or receiving an apology but is determined by how we respond to our sufferings. It provides us with two options: one is carrying our misery with us till death by sticking to bad past experiences and second one is accepting the apology by letting go our pain and allowing us to live the rest of our lives free of the heavy weight of anger.
First of all, it is necessary to note that forgiveness does not correlate with or substitute for forgetfulness. We can forgive someone without forgetting what this person has done. Because if we forget about something we will leave ourselves vulnerable to being hurt once more by the same person or situation; it is likely refusing to see the truth about someone or something. For the sake of peace, it is best in some circumstances to forgive someone without ever getting close to them again.
Four healthy ways to forgive someone:
There are four healthy ways to forgive and let go someone who has hurt you:
- Acknowledge that humans are imperfect
- Contemplate anger and resentment
- Choose love over hatred
- Be aware of negative thinking
1. Acknowledge that humans are imperfect
It may sound strange, but one of our biggest mistakes is thinking others will not make mistakes. People are sometimes elevated in our eyes, with various expectations placed on them. For example, we expect a friend to always be supportive and ready to listen. Allen Berger, the author of several books about addiction and recovery, wrote:
Expectations are premeditated resentments.
Berger observed that although we frequently blamed our issues on others, our expectations of others are actually what lead us to distress. Expectations not being met and the subsequent disappointment frequently causes resentment.
We do not perceive other people as flawed individuals but rather perceive them according to the illusions we have created in our minds about them. These fantasies are common in both parents and children: many parents have high expectations for their children, and their children have high expectations for their parents as well. Accept that people are inherently imperfect or flawed. Even those we hold in high regard have the potential to disappoint us. They make mistakes, push our boundaries, lie, and betray. Accepting this may make it easier for us to let go of our rage.
2. Contemplate anger and resentment
Suffering has some fundamental causes: greed, ignorance, anger, and hatred. Because of its destructive nature, anger leaves an unforgettable mark on a person's personality. Simply consider the atrocities that have occurred as a result of hatred and anger: losses in violent conflicts and genocide. Hatred and anger are also destructive on the inside. Our thoughts of revenge and holding a grudge frequently cause us the most pain.
We may feel resentment because of the unfairness of life or the words and actions of those around us. But no matter how hard we try to change the past or want to have a control over, nothing we do can change the past. We can continue to consume poison while waiting for our enemies to die, but in the end, it will be we who die in agony. We can remind ourselves that such feelings are undesirable by contemplating on the destructive nature of anger and resentment. As a result, we can stop sowing the seeds of destructiveness by forgiving ourselves for these feelings. Forgiveness fueled by love melts away our resentment and anger and replaces them with compassion.
3. Choose love over hatred
Many people tend to return hatred with more hatred. However, it is clear that this primarily exacerbates the situation and often results in bloody battles. You can use violence to kill the liar, but you are unable to kill the lie or prove the truth. You can use brutality to kill the hater, but you are unable to kill the hate. Violence only serves to deepen hatred. When violence is met with more violence, it adds darkness to an already starless night. So you must choose love over hatred. Love does not have to compel us to interact with others. We can love them while maintaining a safe distance and sending them our best wishes.
4. Be aware of negative thinking
We are more prone to negativity than positivity because of the way nature has trained us. We refer to this phenomenon as the "negativity bias" of the brain because it makes us focus on flaws rather than strengths in others around us. In our biased thoughts, someone who has harmed can turn into a wicked person but remember humans are capable of being good and evil. Therefore, just because someone did something wrong does not necessarily make them evil. When someone has no redeeming qualities, it can be tough to forgive them, but forgiving is always benefiting.
People frequently make us stronger, wiser, and more empathetic when they treat us with their negativity. Forgiveness is always a better option. Now from today, let forgive others and spread positivity.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2023 S Saleha