Forgiveness is a concept which, in its true form, is very difficult to grasp and even more difficult to explain.
Forgiveness is something that we all do, some of us on a more regular basis than others. So let’s look at why we forgive.
Sometimes we forgive a perceived transgression so we can be friends again with the perpetrator of the transgression and get on with a relationship with that person. Sometimes we forgive because it is the only way we can maintain a relationship with a family member. And sometimes we forgive so we can get on with our life without the bitterness and anger and negativity that are inherent in holding a grudge. And some people refuse to forgive.
So what is forgiveness, or perhaps a better question would be what isn’t it?
- Forgiveness is not accepting that the transgression perpetrated on you was acceptable behaviour on the part of the transgressor;
- It is not absolving the transgressor of his responsibility for the transgression; and
- Forgiveness is not forgetting the transgression and allowing it to happen again and again.
So what is forgiveness, quite simply put, it is the shedding of the bitterness, anger and negativity brought into your life by the transgression perpetrated against you, and making a concerted decision to forgive yourself for allowing the transgression to so adversely affect you. After all what we think determines how we feel and we are all responsible for our own feelings, no one can make you feel this way or that, we allow extraneous things to affect our feelings and make us feel hurt, sad, angry or afraid.
So what happens to those who don’t forgive. Wow! This carrying around of anger, bitterness and negativity is what causes 90% of those in the hospital today to be there. That’s right, you didn’t misread that. The statistics are that 90% of the people in the hospital today are there as a result of unresolved issues.
Let’s look at the physiological realities of holding on to the issues we have with other people. Ulcers, intestinal problems and enough stress can cause cancer, heart attacks and strokes. It’s not a euphemism, it is the reality and we are killing ourselves every day because we either don’t know how to forgive, or we flatly refuse to do so, and the sad reality, is we are only hurting ourselves, because that is so who forgiveness is for.
Our transgressors, most of the time, couldn’t care less if we forgive them or not, the really nasty ones, create the havoc and then disappear into the ether, never to be seen again, so just using logic, why would we hold onto those destructive negative emotions, what do we gain, a sense of righteous indignation, a sense of “I’m right and they were wrong.” Is that a benefit or a detriment, when the reality is you are the only one suffering, other than the people around you who have to hear how you have been wronged continuously, the perpetrator couldn’t care less, and probably has their own reality in which they did nothing wrong, no matter how adversely their behaviours may have affected you.
My father had a saying which I use all the time: “Convince a man against his will, he’s of the same opinion still”. We may never be able to get the transgressor to see the damage he/she has done, so we need to forgive and get on with a life, just that much less stressed, and just that much happier.
Until next time Namaste