“Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn’t develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counter-violence. This generates even more violence—the problem never goes away. So that is one level.
Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn’t solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that’s the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.”
-The Dalai Lama.
We all have hidden feelings of anger and resentment. All of us have held long-sustained, over-blown grudges against somebody we know. Be it our parents, a family member, a friend or a well-wisher, the human experience is incomplete without anger and frustration. What matters more, however, is how we deal with our inner demons, how we cope with mortal incapacity, and whether we rise above the occasion to be a better person or whether we bow to our shortcomings and thus destroy relationships.
Anger is a strange emotion. When used properly, it can be a positive force, motivating us to do better than before and helping us reach our goals. But more often than not, anger is the father of revenge and discomfort. It can eat us from the inside, make us dissatisfied with our lives, and destroy our relations with people.
So how do we combat anger? We need to forgive. Forgiveness, like Mahatma Gandhi said, is a weapon of the strong. It is easy to be angry; anybody can hold a grudge, anybody can blame others for their misgivings. But it takes courage to take responsibility and forgive. It is also a sort of panacea in that it dissolves all the pain and hurt and rebuilds relationships and lives.
Many experiences in my life made me realize that forgiveness was the best way forward. It was the sole way me life could evolve for the better. Forgiveness, I realized, is difficult, but it is always worth it.
Life is too short to remain angry
I started thinking about forgiveness when one of my friends, with whom I later had a big fight, became critically ill. The fact that he was very close to his demise made me rethink my philosophy. He may have erred in my view, but I don’t want to be 40 or 70 before I regret not having spent some time with him in his remaining days, cherishing his company and talking with him while I could. After all, he was a good friend once, and we shared many sweet memories.
Forgiveness takes time
Forgiving another person or yourself doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and dedication. ‘Sorry’ can’t do justice to years of suppressed apathy. A lifetime of resentment is not done away with a whiff of inspired forgiveness. It takes time for wounds to heal. I personally tried several relaxation techniques for anxiety to cope with the trauma of losing a loved one. It also helped me come to terms with forgiving myself as well as others.
Everything has a reason
The people we’re angry with may not know of our resentment. But that doesn’t mean they have to know. People are sometimes difficult because they, like all human beings, are imperfect. We need to look at the positives, be optimistic, and appreciate the many sacrifices they might have made, the many hardships they undergo, and the benefits of having a constructive fellowship with them.
There are many ways to come to terms with forgiving others:
- Condoning what the other person did
- Giving in
- Trying some relaxation techniques for anxiety
- Pretending that nothing happened or that it really wasn’t such a big deal
- Admitting that your anger isn’t justified or that you’re not entitled to it
I decided to attack my problems at the source: myself. I needed to conquer my anger by forgiving myself. Because much of my anger directed at the world was also frustration with myself. By forgiving myself, I automatically began the process of rebuilding many relationships; I was finally on the road to recovery.
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