There are those times where people wrong us, hurt us, do things that seem unforgivable. Maybe the wrong was small, like they cut us off in line, or maybe it was major, like they cheated on us, destroyed our lives. Regardless the wrong, the only thing we can control is how we respond. How it impacts who we are and what our future holds. We can cling to the pain, the hurt, the wrong the person did, or we can release it and move forward.
I’m not saying forgiving someone is easy, as some things are rather difficult to forgive. Though in the grand sphere of our lives, the decades of life and love we have behind us and ahead of us, I have to ask is holding on to the pain really worth it? I’ve tried to live my life with no regrets, no grudges, no hatred of anyone. So far I’ve been successful at that. There were times it took me a few months to make peace with something, but in the end I always did. I don’t believe in hate, it’s not a word in my vocabulary. I don’t feel it toward anyone and I don’t plan to start feeling that way now. It seems like a miserable way to live hating other humans.
Now we can get technical and start talking what about Hitler? What about Pol Pot? Sure, yes, though how many of us experience that level of wrong in real life, so how on earth can we equate the same word of ‘hate’ we feel toward Jeffrey Dahmer to the person at work who keeps criticizing us? Yes, hating Mathieu Ngirumpatse totally understandable, but hating the random person in your life that told you that you were ugly or that you were a bully or that you were too dumb or whatever. Is it really the same? Should it really warrant our strongest negative emotional word of ‘hate’?
I get most of it comes down to a bruised ego, so I have to wonder, why does an ego bruising really matter? Why does it have to hurt? At the end of the day, we live with ourselves day in and day out and if we live by the motto of doing what’s right no matter what, then it really is just sticks and stones. Sure it’s not fun when someone neglects us, abuses us, says really unkind things, or disrespects us, but is it really worth hanging on to? Is it really worth tying up our future happiness over? I think not.
My grandmother inspired a pact for 2017 that our family be united in peace and love and unqualified togetherness. Which requires letting go of any grudges, any negativity, any resentments, and as I’ve reflected on that request, I’ve wondered if it shouldn’t go further in life. If we think about Alcoholics Anonymous and the wisdom they teach, they say deep resentment leads to futility and unhappiness and shuts us off from the “sunlight of the Spirit”. They teach forgiveness is a state of mind and I couldn’t agree more. I’m not perfect, but I do try to live my life by that principle.
As part of the program, and don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up the joys of wine, but I can still appreciate the wisdom they teach, and in that wisdom they have steps to their program, many of which involve forgiveness – asking for it, seeking it, and forgiving yourself. It is a powerful thing to be able to do, both of others and of yourself. We are not perfect beings, sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes those mistakes are big, sometimes they are small. Owning up to our mistakes or forgiving others for their mistakes takes courage, takes a strength that only makes us stronger. It’s easy and weak to pretend we have no flaws, to hide behind blaming or hating others, but in the end, no problem is all one person.
Sure there are times in all of our lives where we feel wronged to a level we aren’t sure we could ever forgive. We want to, we want nothing more than to release the negativity and get back to our joyful and peaceful lives, but we can’t see through the fog to even figure out how that process might occur. If you’re on that path, I’d recommend the AA or Buddhist literature, but really it’s about trying to look at the world as objectively as possible.
> We know we are all human and prone to error.
> We know many people struggle with self-esteem and often act out of emotion.
> We know many people struggle with thinking rationally when they are undergoing emotions.
So if we take these primary foundational items and overlay them into what might have been happening in that person’s life, and we remove our own ego/self-esteem/emotion from the equation, often things start to become clearer. Facts start to line up and we can often understand why the person did the things they did. We may not agree with them, but we can see how they could get to that point. And I’m not talking about forgiving the heinous people on the worst people that ever existed list (Ted Bundy, Jim Jones, etc.), but I am talking about the day-to-day people in our lives.
Like my grandmother challenged her kin, I challenge all of us to take on 2017 with no regrets, no grudges, no negativity, to release it all into the atmosphere and embrace the good we have in our lives, the happiness, the abundance that surrounds us, no matter how little we may feel we have, most of us have something. Life is short, too short to take for granted all the good and dwell in the bad. Life is as amazing as we make it – so let’s make 2017 as amazing as possible!