Have you ever been in a situation where you had been hurt or damaged by another person, and your friends or perhaps a spiritual advisor warned you that holding a grudge was hurting you more than the other person, and you “should” forgive that person?
When that happens, most of us have a knee-jerk reaction, conditioned from early childhood by the people around us, books, movies and the collective consciousness that evokes a response: “No way! I’m never going to forgive that jerk.” We hold onto the judgment that it was a terrible thing he/she did to us, and perhaps it was. I’m not here to argue with you over what happened and decree who was in the wrong.
The point is that when we refuse to forgive a person, government or situation, then that individual or group or event actually holds us hostage. We become a slave to it. We relive the pain again and again, mulling over the details, grumbling about it, allowing it to possess our thoughts and poison the joy we could be experiencing in a new day.
Dr. Joseph Murphy tells the story of a man who came to him for a spiritual consultation, and complained that his business partner had embezzled from their company, absconded with the funds, fled the country, and yet was now thriving. He was outraged and overcome with hostility toward his former partner.
Murphy relates what happened next, “I explained to him that forgiveness of himself and the other was absolutely essential for his health and wellbeing and that he would know when he had forgiven because he could remember the incident and remain indifferent altogether—no feeling, no word. By living the scene or experience over again, he recreated the condition, and like the seed that recedes and grows again quarterly, annually, or biennially in the same way, the old ulcerated state appeared in a new form. Certain plants die and bud again according to season. It is essential to eradicate the cause to prevent a relapse of the disease. He decided definitely to release him completely in his mind, wishing for his ex-partner all the blessings of life, and a healing followed.”
Forgiveness is an exchange. As Murphy says in other books of his, it is a matter of deciding what we will “give” “for” the feeling we are holding. Will we give release in exchange for peace of mind? Or will we continue to give resentment, anger, and spite in exchange for righteous indignation and a juicy drama to tell friends and strangers about, and gain their sympathy?
As a society, we have not been taught to understand the value of forgiving ourselves and others for past wrongs or mistakes or missteps in life. Instead, we cling to the pain, and to thoughts of revenge. We dig in our heels and vow that we will never forget what was done unto us.
And all of that keeps us stuck. It keeps us trapped in the past, mired in the pain of events that are already over.
Forgiveness is a concept that can transform your peace of mind, and help your blood pressure, too. “Give” a hall pass to the other, no matter how severely you feel hurt, and in exchange for it, what you’ll get is priceless: freedom.