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In my book “EMOTIONAL FREEDOM” I emphasize the importance of forgiveness and why revenge doesn’t work. Forgiveness is the act of compassionately releasing the desire to punish someone or yourself for an offense. It’s a state of grace, nothing you can force or pretend. There are no short cuts. Mistakenly, some of my patients, wanting to be “spiritual,” have prematurely tried to forgive after someone emotionally knifes them in the gut. First, you must feel anger before you can begin to forgive. I gradually guide patients to the large-heartedness of forgiving injuries either caused by others or self-inflicted. Now is a perfect time to embrace the spirit of the holiday season and work on letting go of the resentments we are harboring.

 

Revenge is the desire to get even when someone does you wrong. It’s natural to feel angry, to say “I’m not going to let that **** get away with this,” whatever “this” is. However, revenge reduces you to your worst self, puts you on the same level with those spiteful people we claim to abhor. Additionally, studies have shown that revenge increases stress and impairs health and  immunity. Sure, if someone hits you with a stick, you have the impulse to hit them back--the basis for wars. To thrive personally and as a species, we must resist this predictable lust for revenge, and seek to right wrongs more positively. This doesn’t make you a pushover; you’re just refusing to act in a tediously destructive way antithetical to ever finding peace. As Confucious says,  "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."

 

What I’m suggesting is a version of “turn the other check” yet still doing everything to preserve what’s important to you. The hard part, though, is watching someone “get away with something” when there’s nothing you can do about it. Yes, your wife left you for the yoga instructor. Yes, your colleague sold you out. With situations like this in my life, I take solace in the notion of karma, that sooner or later, what goes around comes around. Also know that the best revenge is your success, happiness, and the triumph of not giving vindictive people any dominion over your peace of mind.

 

Forgiveness refers to the actor not the act. Not to the offense but the woundedness of the offender. This doesn’t mean you’ll run back to your battering spouse because of compassion for the damaged person he or she is. Of course you want to spare yourself mistreatment. However, from a distance, you can try to forgive the conscious or unconscious suffering that motivates people. Our desire to transform anger is a summoning of peace, well worth the necessary soul stretching.

To experience forgiveness, try this exercise from “EMOTIONAL FREEDOM’

 

Emotional Action Step. Be Bigger Than Anger--Practice Forgiveness Now

1.     Identify one person you’re angry with. Start with someone low on your list, not your rage-aholic father. Then you can get a taste of forgiveness quickly. After that you can proceed to tackle more challenging targets.

 

2.     Honestly address your feelings. Talk to friends, your therapist, or other supportive people, but get the anger out. I also recommend writing your feelings down in a journal to purge negativity. Then, decide whether you want to raise the issue with someone.

 

3.     Begin to forgive. Hold the person you’re angry with clearly in your mind. Then ask yourself, “What emotional shortcomings caused him or her to treat me poorly?” This is what you want to have compassion for, the area to forgive. Definitely, don’t subject yourself to shabby treatment, but reach for compassion for the person’s emotional blindness or cold heart.

 

Here’s how forgiveness can work in a range of situations where you’d have every right to be angry. It establishes a kinder mindset whether or not you decide to confront someone.

 

§  A good friend acts inconsiderately when she’s having a bad day. Remember, nobody’s perfect. You may want to let the incident slide. If you do mention it, don’t make this one-time slight into a big deal. Give your friend a break--forgive the lapse.

 

§  A coworker takes credit for your ideas. Do damage control, whether it means mentioning this situation to the coworker, your boss, or Human Resources, and don’t trust her with ideas in the future. However, try to forgive the coworker for being such a greedy, insecure, mean-spirited person that she has to stoop so low as to steal from you.

 

§  Your mother-in-law is needy or demanding. Keep setting kind but firm boundaries so over time you can reach palatable compromises. But also have mercy on the insecurities beneath her neediness and demands--perhaps fear of being alone, of aging, of being excluded from the family, of not being heard. This will soften your response to her.

 

§  You suffered childhood abuse. The healing process of recovering from abuse requires enormous compassion for yourself and is facilitated by support from other abuse survivors, family, friends, or a therapist. Still, if you feel ready to work towards forgiveness of an abuser, it necessitates seeing the brokenness and suffering that would make the person want to commit such grievous harm. You’re not excusing the behavior or returning to it, but grasping how emotionally crippled he or she is, a huge stretch of compassion, but the path to freedom.

 

Forgiveness is a paradigm-shifting solution for transforming anger. It liberates you from the trap of endless revenge so that you can experience more joy and connection. Forgiveness does more for you than anyone else because it liberates you from negativity and lets you move forward. Forgiving might not make anger totally dissolve but it will give you the freedom of knowing you are so much more.


By Judith Orloff MD 

 

 


What do you think about this topic? Let us know



 

I frequently hear folks say to me that they cannot forgive someone for some god-awful thing they’ve done...for some horrific wrong that’s been perpetrated against them, because to do so would be to lessen the impact and seriousness of the offense.

 

They say that if they forgive, the person will think what they did was either not that bad, or was actually ok to do...They say that they must hold on to the pain and memory of the offense in order to keep it from happening again. (mystical, magical thinking, if I ever heard it!)

 

They say they can NEVER trust that person again.

 

And...I’m told that the offending person MUST continue to suffer because of what they’ve done. (What rule book did THAT come out of, I wonder...?)

 

And to that I say...

 

Balderdash!

 

The truth is...none of the above is true!

 

Let me explain.

 

To refuse to forgive someone does not affect the person who wronged you nearly as much as it negatively impacts you. When we hold on to painful stuff that has happened to us, guess what...?  We are the ones who suffer, because we are the keepers of the bad memories, the anger, the angst, and all the other not so good-feeling feelings we are hanging onto!

 

Go figure!

 

So...onward and upward to talking about the benefits to YOU of letting go and moving to a place of forgiveness (where you won’t have to pay as much in terms of your own unhappiness!)

 

First of all, not being willing to forgive is a “one up” position to be in...Actually...it’s a superior position...meaning that you think you have the truth of what is ok and what is not, and what is worthy of forgiveness and what is not forgivable. In other words, you think you are better than they are.

 

But remember...“Let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone.”

 

 

Second of all, if you won’t forgive, then at some point, you have no one to talk to. We all err, we all screw up...Eventually every one you know will do something that hurts you, or that you disagree...or disapprove...of. What then...?

 

You’re gonna get real lonely!

 

Third of all, as stated earlier, hanging on to stuff that’s been done to you hurts you...more than it hurts the one who did it to you. You won’t be able to be as happy with a napsack full of remembered wrongs done to you!

 

If you can recall a time when you were able to forgive an offense, I imagine you also remember how good you felt after you let it go. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of you! It also allows the goodness of being in relationship with someone to flood back into your heart!

 

Why would you deny yourself the opportunity to feel that!

 

Why would you choose to hang on to something that is already in the past and can’t be changed anyway? It makes no sense, if what you really want is happiness, and good relationships that make you feel good!

 

Fourth of all, if you are ever in need of forgiveness...and trust me, there will be a time when you will screw up just like everyone else does...You will be the one who hopes for forgiveness, because to not be forgiven can really feel rotten!

 

So...how about modeling forgiveness to everyone you know, so that when the time comes, you will increase the odds of also being forgiven!

 

And finally...

 

Fifth of all, I suspect that most of you are just trying to let the person who wronged you know that what they did was hurtful to you and that it was not ok for them to treat you that way.

 

Well...

 

Bt Char

The truth is, there are more effective ways of getting that message across to someone. And if what you want is to reduce the likelihood of being hurt again, you want to handle the situation in the most effective way you can, to help the person know where you stand with their thoughtless mischief right from the get-go!

 

Then you can still have the relationship (and we really want to value our relationships and keep them intact if at all possible, don’t we?) with less chance of repeat mischief!

 

So, here’s a bonus.

 

Three Effective Ways To Deal With People Who Do Hurtful Things

 

1.Refuse to be hurt!

 

If you recognize that it is actually impossible for anyone to physically, mentally, or emotionally hurt you, that you are, in fact, in charge of whether you choose to take on the emotional pain of what they have done, then you are one step closer to being able to avoid the painful feelings of someone else’s behavior. Then it is not only much easier to forgive them, but you also are in a better position to feel compassion for the way they are sabotaging their relationships and their own life...

 

You are then able to be a part of the reconciliatory process rather than part of the problem that keeps you from being in relationship with others in your life!

 

2.Talk to the person about how it felt to be treated poorly.

 

Go figure!

 

We hear all the time about the importance of good communication skills! Here is one of those times when it pays to be willing and able to talk to someone about what’s going on with you rather than just reacting emotionally to the situation!

 

In many cases what you will discover is that the other person was unaware they had behaved as badly as they had, nor were they perhaps aware of the effect their behavior had on you!

 

So check it out!

 

It’s possible they would feel badly about having hurt someone’s feelings, and having that information might help them do things differently. But even if talking to them doesn’t change what they do, or improve the way they relate to you...and to others, talking about it will most certainly help you to more easily let go of it, if you choose to!

 

It is then your decision whether you will continue a relationship with them, or the type of relationship and degree of closeness you feel you want to have with them.

 

3. Focus on the good stuff in your relationships.                             

 

Even the people whom you believe have hurt you in some way, have also most likely also done some good stuff for you and others.

 

No one is all bad!

 

It’s important to realize that human beings tend to “see” what supports their belief about what is going on. So, if you think someone has hurt you, you most likely tend to “see” them in a negative light in general.

 

What we focus on gains strength and prominence in our lives. (ie: if you exercise a muscle, it gets stronger...if you “exercise” negative thoughts and beliefs you tend to find more evidence to support the negative beliefs and perceptions you hold.)

 

So, work to see the people in your life in a more holistic way, and it will put things in better perspective regarding your interactions with them.

 

So...forgive and hope to be forgiven, and life can be wonderful for you and every one with whom you share your life!

 

 

By Char Ellen En