We all have been hurt in the past. It may have been by someone we cared about a lot or it may have been our own doing to ourselves, in any case we can find ourselves holding onto this hurt, may even feel anger or resentment, and in some cases even the thought of revenge may pop in our heads.
These hurts could be cause by your constant negative self-talk, or you mother constantly criticising you, your partner cheating on you or by a work colleague sabotaging your project. In some cases you may want to be vengeful. But revenge, although you may initially feel will help you get even, will in fact end up doing the opposite. Your vengeful self will bring out your worst self, and puts you on the same level as those that hurt you in the first instance.
Studies have also found that revenge increases stress, impairs your health and immune system. To excel as a person, you must resist your want to revenge and instead seek a way to correct wrongs more positively. It shows that you are a strong person by not acting on your negative emotions instantly, choosing not to be destructive and instead finding peace. As Confucious says ‘Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
Revenge may not be every one’s way of dealing with hurts. Others turn inward and become bitter and twisted. Blame everyone else for the hurt and the situation, and push others away in their life that may be viewed as a threat to inflict hurt. This in most cases means that they cannot have a meaningful relationship with people, or at least carry the ‘baggage’ around affecting the quality of their lives heavily.
I suggest that neither of the above options are part of a healthy and happy life. What can help you move forward in creating such life is practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is your decision to let go of the hurt, the resentment or any thoughts of revenge toward those that hurt you. Forgiveness puts you back in charge of your life instead of keeping you a victim of your past.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you run back to the person that hurt you, nor does it mean that you deny their responsibility in your hurt. You can forgive from a distance, you don’t even have to talk to the person that hurt you. Especially that in some instances that person may have passed away, yet you are still carrying the burden of the hurts caused.
What forgiveness does is create inner peace, it set you free from the burden you carry and sets the other person free too. Letting go of grudges and bitterness allows room for happiness, health and abundance to return to your life. Once you are free from your burdens, you will feel lighter, you can create healthier relationships, and improve your self-esteem.
The process to forgiveness may bring up some unwanted memories. But supressing your emotions about these will only create issues for you. So when you do forgiveness work, be patient with yourself, take a step by step approach. Set time aside for it when no one will disturb you. It is best to set yourself up in front of a mirror so you can talk to yourself about the situation. Get the tissues ready, and work on one person at a time.
Once you settle in to do forgiveness work follow these steps:
- Think of the person that you are going to forgive
- Bring up the situation that has caused the hurt
- Discover your feelings about it, is it sadness, shame or anger? Be honest. Speak about it out loud to yourself in the mirror. Let the tears flow if they come.
- In the end say ‘Joe, I forgive you for all you said and done. I forgive you and set you free. I set myself free.’
In some cases it may take a few goes to fully forgive someone, in other cases it may be very easy to. If you feel resistance within you make sure you do not punish yourself. Acknowledge that resistance, and revisit this person/situation again at a later day.
Forgiveness may not come easy, but it can heal your life and turn it around because it liberates you from negativity and let’s you move forward.