When we are wronged by somebody or we make bad decisions for our life we get annoyed, frustrated, and disappointed. Sometimes with ourselves and sometimes, enraged by the perpetrator in question. But as the old saying goes, ‘anger is like holding a hot coal in your hand expecting someone else to get burnt’. Sometimes it’s better to try to understand the power that forgiveness can have in you dealing with your problems.
To forgive does not mean to forget
Whether a person has hurt you physically, emotionally or mentally in the past, or you made a bad decision that led to your life becoming more negative and difficult, it does little good to your peace of mind if you hold on to that anger, resentment and a feeling of vengeance and will only destroy your peace of mind.
By forgiving does not mean you have to forget what happened, in fact you should never forget what happened in order to ensure you learn to deal with similar situations correctly in future when they may arise.
Instead of forgetting what happened having an acceptance that it did and that any wrong doing is beyond our control to change, it is only how we deal with the past wrong doing that makes the difference in our peace of mind or not.
Seeing things from the perspective of the wrong doer
It is hard not to feel hate for someone when they intentionally go out their way to make your life difficult but why does someone do something bad to someone else in the first place? Someone who is confident and happy in themselves in every way will never intentionally go out their way to hurt somebody as they don’t want to bring any ill feeling or difficulty to anybody.
Coming from a place of an alternative perspective of the person who has made your life difficult can help you in understanding what happened and develop compassion for your ‘enemy’ rather than hatred, vengeance and violence.
For example, when I was training to become a teacher ( although I didn’t pursue this career due to this experience I am about to discuss ) in my 2nd school placement I was sent to a school that was closing due to an amalgamation with a nearby school that was more successful. The two people who were to be my ‘mentors’ at first were welcoming , particularly as I suggested to write 3 units of work ( even though my fellow students at university were writing one ) and they appeared to get on well with me for the first week, but things changed…
It came by that the two of them ended up taking a dislike to me and made my life very difficult, making me lie that was a games designer and shout at the children ( shouting at someone in my opinion is non-productive in winning your classes respect and not my style), they would not help with learning how to teach, they would lie to my tutors at university saying I was not coping and basically playing a lot of mind games saying things behind my back.
Feeling they were in total control of my situation, career, my ability to teach and making out that I was not coping when in fact I was doing three times as much work as anyone else!
This was just some of the things they did to make my life difficult and in the end I had my first bad breakdown due to the way they made me feel and the feeling of being totally out of control. It also led me to not pursuing teaching ( although I completed the degree in defiance even though I found it hard to be in a school after this experience ) and took me away from the profession where I could have helped many people into a better future.
I could have been annoyed with them and looked for vengeance but I looked at their lives from their perspective. I realised they were loosing their job and I was a young ambitious person, liked by those I taught and I understood there was a lot going on in their lives so why I probably bared the brunt of their difficulties. In the end I learnt to not let anyone treat me the way they did ever again and to not let anyone else I work with be treated that way either.
If I had become angry it would have just led to me being kicked out of the university so instead I complained to my university lecturers and wished that they never be allowed to mentor student teachers.I did not want revenge, I just wanted to ensure no one else would experience what I had.
5 years later I now forgive them for how they treated me and in the end led to me finding a profession I truly enjoy. Maybe one day I will teach as it is something that can help people who truly want help and education, maybe in Asia or elsewhere were there is poverty or a deep need to be educated.
So you see,something positive comes out of forgiving your enemy.
Usually we forgive ourselves but sometimes we don’t
Part of how I was treated was down to how I reacted to their mistreatment towards me. If I had been more assertive and less afraid of their power over my education and future and I had communicated that I was unhappy maybe I would never have had a breakdown and maybe they would have changed their attitude towards me. For a long while after this experience I was annoyed with myself and this often happens…we reflect afterwards at what we should have said or done differently at the time of being confronted with the difficulty and become so frustrated with ourselves for not acting in a better way.
When we make mistakes and we realise that what we did or how we reacted was wrong or not in the best interests of yourself and/or another we tend to regret and feel shame for the silly mistakes and wish we could erase it from our lives…but we cant…we have to forgive and we have to move on.
We must learn to forgive ourselves for bad decisions as the only person who will really get burnt by being annoyed and frustrated by ourselves is ourselves.
Learn to develop empathy for yourself and when you see someone else who has done wrong in another’s eyes remember that person has a story to tell and probably a reason why they have a disturbed mind and choosing to take out their pain on you or someone else…
Don’t blame yourself, let go of the feeling of shame and regret . Then you will be able to move on.
Forgiving others no matter the crime to yourself
So if you have understood your wrong doers reason for the action they have taken on you and you have accepted that you should have reacted differently to the situation then you will find your mind starts to lift from a heavy, dark and confused place to an acceptance that it was ‘a life lesson’.
I learnt to never let anyone I meet treat me that badly again and communicate my dissatisfaction. I learnt the importance of having assertiveness and being my true self not trying to please others by doing what they say and standing for what you believe in.
What can you learn from your misfortune that comes from a place of empathy and love rather than hate and vengeance?
Every cloud has a silver lining, find yours!
Harbouring past hurts only hurts one person
It took a while to overcome my disappointment of my Architecture graduation in May 2008 and the breakdown caused by two women who were loosing their jobs in my 2nd attempt at another career in teaching. I was angry and frustrated for quite a few years but in the end I was the only one hurting from those thoughts.
Slowly, years later, I learnt to forgive and I chose to turn the anger and frustration into a fire in my heart, it drove me forward in a positive way to find what I truly wanted in life and also have empathy for others who are struggling for whatever reason and try to help when I can.
Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Your mind will be at peace.
Asking yourself why the perpetrator did what they did
When we look back at the painful experience we had and we reflect on why the perpetrator did what they did we can develop compassion and understanding which can lead to forgiveness and peace of mind for ourselves.
Rather than seeking revenge for a wrong doing, acceptance that it was a past mistake and that it will never happen again is something very important to your healing process. Saying this, never be passive and allow the perpetrator to continue to hurt you, stand up for yourself, but once the pain has stopped learn to forgive them and yourself.
Once forgiven you can stop being stuck in the past
Once you have managed to understand your past is not who you are, no matter what happened and you learn to forgive both the perpetrator, the situation and yourself for the bad experience then you will find you begin to gain peace of mind and confidence in yourself allowing to move forward.
Learn from experiences, forgive your foe, accept your own mistake and move forward.
Have you used the power of forgiveness to heal your wounds? Have you any thoughts on forgiveness in healing after reading the article? Please comment below.