Holding on to a grudge is like taking rat poison and hoping that the rat will die. ('Rat' being the person who wronged you, obviously!)
In reality though, it harms only you and, if you allow it to get out of hand, the people in your life who actually love you and support you. The person who wronged you remains oblivious to your pain, and carries on with his life as if you never existed.
I usually don't find it difficult to forgive others. There are two reasons for it.
- Being a Capricorn, I tend to allow very few people into my emotional center, where they might have the power to hurt me DEEPLY.
- I began to understand, from a very early age, that many of us are weak. And weak people hurt others. Because they need that "power boost" over others to feel strong. Strong people don't have any such power or control issues that they might need to take advantage of others.
Yet, a few years ago, I found myself in an unprecedented position, where I simply couldn't find it in me to forgive someone who had hurt me deeply. Probably hurt me more than anyone else ever had.
Oh I didn't stay up at night plotting revenge or anything. (Capricorns are too practical-headed for that sort of thing. I mean, it's a sheer waste of time, right? And us 'mountain goats' don't believe in wastage!) But, I couldn't bring myself to forgive this person. Not till some time last year.
And during all this while, I realized some important things about forgiveness.
9 Things You Must Know About Forgiveness
- It is soooo easy to "preach" about forgiveness, but when you're actually experiencing the pain of betrayal, forgiveness is not even the LAST thing on your mind! In fact, it actually feels like an invalidation of your feelings and your hurt, every time somebody tells you to "forgive"!
- Normal unenlightened human-beings don't come with a switch called "forgiveness", that they can just press and instantly move on! They have to first process through all the different emotions involved... hurt, anger, resentment, grief, bitterness, pain, sadness... PLUS all the insecurities and fears associated with creating a new unknown future. This takes time, and every one goes through this phase at his own pace, depending also upon the kind of support network he has.
- Not forgiving is like creating this giant wall around us, with all our hurt and hatred and bitterness. It is a kind of defense tactic, to "protect" us from further hurt. We've been violated. And therefore, we realize instinctively that we are weak and vulnerable. So these "walls" stay, until we recover our strength again.
(I remember my biggest fear during this period was about letting this person back into my life and getting hurt again. I didn't think I had the strength then to walk away. Deep emotional ties ARE hard to break, you know. So I deliberately replayed all the hurt and pain in my mind, over and over again, just to make sure that I didn't forgive. I needed that wall, you see.)
- They say that you must forgive and forget, but in reality, you don't need to forget. On the contrary, you should actually remember it, for the lesson it contained.
- Forgiveness doesn't mean reconciliation. You don't need to let those people back into your life. You can forgive them and still refuse to talk to them or even answer their emails. Forgiving them doesn't mean you owe them any part or space in your life. (I didn't know this for such a long time! I wouldn't have been so scared of forgiving this person otherwise!)
- Forgiveness doesn't need an act of "penance" from the person who wronged you. It doesn't need ANYthing from that person actually. Except perhaps space. All you really need is to be left in peace, to not be reminded of the incident in any way, so that you can heal, and move on.
- Forgiveness doesn't absolve the person who wronged you from guilt or blame. There are some wrongs that can't be written off. There are some wrongs that cause permanent damage. Just because you forgive them, doesn't mean that they are not responsible for it anymore. You're not "setting them free" from anything by forgiving them. You don't NEED to set them free. You only need to set YOURSELF free... from that pain and suffering and helplessness.
- Forgiving the other person is so much easier than forgiving yourself for allowing that person to take advantage of you, for putting your faith in someone who didn't deserve it, for being so gullible and naive.
- No matter how long it takes you, eventually you just have to forgive. For your own sake. Because YOU don't need to be a hostage to a memory. You deserve better than this pain and bitterness. You deserve joy... and hope.
It is only when we are seriously shattered by someone that we feel like we'll never be able to forgive him. It can take a long time to pick all the broken pieces of our life together, and even then, we might never recover all that we lost. Things might never go back to being as they were before. WE might never be that same person anymore.
But forgiving that person, despite all this, means that we finally have the courage to venture into the "unknown". It means that our past and the person who wronged us don't have any control over us anymore. We were weak when we were hurt, but now, we are strong. And we look forward to our new "adventure".
Have you ever been in a position where you couldn't forgive someone who wronged you? What helped you move on then? What did you learn along the way? Do you feel comfortable sharing your experience with us in the comments below?
This is my sixth post for AtoZ2017.
I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook.
You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.
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