“You have no idea what he did to me!” Ever hear someone say that? Did you ever say that? Or have you ever thought it while justifying your choice not to forgive the one who wronged you?
Recently, a dear friend told me he has stage 3 cancer. It is a type of cancer that is aggressive in nature. The saddest part is he complained of symptoms for over a year which his doctor chose to ignore and dismissed as insignificant. If the doctor had taken tests when asked, more than likely it never would have progressed to this stage.
Immediately after my friend told me this, he stated, “I have chosen to forgive him and hold no animosity towards him. I realize that if I became angry at him, the only one who would lose is myself.”
A major cause of our suffering
It has been further reported that the opposite is also true. When someone makes the choice to forgive the wrongdoer, their own healing process begins. When we hold onto this negative emotion labeled unforgiveness, the greatest harm we are doing is to ourselves. Often the other party is oblivious to our grievance and remains unaffected. When we continue to hold on to thoughts of bitterness and revenge, we are stooping to their level. When we forgive, we rise above it. It can be euphoric because of the release it brings.
Unforgiveness can start innocently enough. Someone wronged us. We were hurt and can justify our feelings. Time passes and these feelings may be suppressed, but the subconscious never forgets them. Something may happen to ignite them and it may be harder to suppress, especially if entertained by thoughts of revenge. These thoughts begin to affect us emotionally and cause stress, which is toxic to our well being. Sadly, when we say “I can't forgive them,” we are really saying “I won't.” The choice is entirely ours.
Holding on to our hostility, we keep ourselves in bondage
Many people try to justify their feelings of revenge or unforgiveness by saying "You have no idea what I had to go through because of them!" Yes, I may have some idea as I had been raped as a young woman and left to die. My husband was wrongly accused of a white collar crime and sent to prison. The child we had adopted and loved for a year was given back to his birth mother, who did not want him. Our business partners stole our business fraudulently and left us penniless - not once.....but two times. Should I go on? The point is, we all have our stories of how we have been hurt. What we do with it, is our choice. When we hold on to the hostility, we keep ourselves in a form of bondage. Please realize that I am not suggesting it is easy to forgive but I am suggesting that making the decision to forgive releases freedom.
I can Forgive but do I have to Forget?
Unforgiveness can consume you
When you make the decision to forgive someone, you are the bigger person and will realize the good fortune of being healthier as a result.
Being unwilling to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.