“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of harming another; you end up getting burned.”
If you’re reading this post today, you most likely have someone you’d like to forgive. Conversely, you may be here because it is not fathomable to you to forgive someone in your life and you are reading this post to see if you can continue to defend your resentment, anger, and pain. Despite how justified you may feel in holding on to the anger, consider the consequences of holding on to your hostility. Accommodating hostility is linked to higher blood pressure, lowered immune functioning, increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, hostility has been found to be the number one predictor of heart disease. When an individual has wronged you, harboring anger may be your spirit’s way of protecting yourself from further pain and disappointment. However, you are not built that way – you cannot continue harboring resentment or vindication and expect personal fulfillment or daily joy.
Allowing yourself to freely give and share love, even to those whose actions are unacceptable, allows you to be in control of your life and your feelings. By not practicing forgiveness, then, you are essentially allowing the person who may have caused you harm and pain to continue being in control of your feelings. It is not condoning what the other individual did, or accepting their actions. It is moving forward in your life; after all, you cannot control others’ actions but your own. Forgiveness is a critical step in empowerment. It allows you to take action in taking back your life and control – learn to forgive, even the unfathomable, and you can continue taking steps towards self-empowerment. Learning to forgive is most easily done in steps. Begin with the smallest wrongdoings in your life. Forgive individuals around you for the smaller infractions. Then, move on to the bigger, more difficult offenses to forgive.
1. Understand that all individuals have their own experiences that prompt their actions. You will not understand what culmination of experiences encouraged their thoughts and feelings that led to their actions. Likewise, others will not understand the full extent of their actions on your thoughts, feelings, and well-being.
2. Acknowledge that each and every one of us engage in actions that we believe will be best suited to protect ourselves – that is, if the other individual engaged in a behavior intentionally, they most likely did so in pursuit of self-preservation.
3. Make a commitment to let others’ suffering or misguided actions end with them. Choose not to perpetuate anger and pain in this world by choosing to decide not be a vessel of ill-will to others or to yourself.