We feel hurt or wronged by someone in some way and we can easily react with anger.
We hold our outrage as a badge of resentment, bitterness, and victimhood. We can wear it, even proudly. Here’s the thing: whether we realize it at the time or not, the negativity that comes with our attachments to old hurts and holding a grudge is a heavy burden to bear. It can consume us, smothering us with its shadowy cloak. When we live from the place of being hurt like this, holding onto it willingly, we suffer.
The brain perceives pain no matter what its source – physical, emotional, or spiritual – the same for all these types of pain, sending out the signal “it hurts” to the rest of the body. Negativity, of any kind, is a stressor to the body. Muscles tense up, our circulation and digestive processes are compromised, and aches and pains can arise as the body contracts and releases stress hormones.
We can choose the path of resentment and anger or we can decide to forgive.
Once we decide, our life around this can shift instantaneously, or it may take us longer to allow ourselves to open to forgiveness. One way or another, it is a healthier decision on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels to bring ourselves around to the choice of forgiveness. Otherwise, those feelings of victimhood we carry end up not only negatively affecting us, but also play out in our relationships, emanating out into the world. We may need the help of a friend or a Higher Power to help us let go of the hurts and wrongs we feel.
A key ingredient of forgiveness is compassion.
It doesn’t mean that we condone what happened. It means that we realize that we are carrying the burden of what happened and then making a choice to release it. We begin by forgiving ourselves, perhaps the hardest of all to forgive. Then we forgive others. The extent to which we can forgive ourselves is the extent to which we can forgive others. Compassion is at the root of forgiveness, and at the root of our experience of being hurt or wronged by another is our choice to act.
The Choice of Forgiveness
Ultimately, it is up to us to decide the direction of our life. In surrendering our fight with the world, we are given a new lease on life. A life of freedom and being able to finally stand tall again, no longer weighed down by the weight of bitterness.