You’re handed a pill.
You look down at your palm and recognize the label on the pill.
It reads “poison”.
Your eyes shift from the palm of your hand to the eyes of who handed you the pill.
Your eyes squint communicating anger and bitterness with the person who offered you this pernicious gift.
The person looks back with a wry smile, expecting you to accept the gift you just received.
The obvious choice here is to refuse the gift, but you make a different choice.
You choose to put the pill in your mouth and POISON YOURSELF, and you have an expectation that the OTHER PERSON will suffer.
Why would you do this?
Well, this is a choice many of us make throughout our lives.
We poison ourselves by holding on to anger, resentment, and frustration of another.
In your years of interacting with other human beings, you most likely experienced someone treating you poorly, unfairly, or being downright abusive.
You may have been justified in responding in ways that protected yourself or those around you.
It may have served you well to defend against the attacks and remove this person from your life.
I’ll tell you what offers you ZERO in return.
Here’s what NEVER serves you, regardless of the situation.
Choosing not to forgive the person for what they did.
I’m NOT saying to be apathetic and indifferent to how others treat you.
I’m NOT saying to give an abusive person multiple chances to berate you and treat you like you are insignificant.
I AM saying that holding onto the resentment is equivalent to placing a poison pill in your own mouth and swallowing it while holding onto an illusory belief that it somehow hurts the other person.
You have so much power within you to decide on how you experience your life. It’s your choice as to whether you fill yourself with anger, resentment, and bitterness, or you choose to practice forgiveness.
In a strange way, you may find some pleasure in feeling angry with another person. Anger gives you a sense of righteousness and control while fending off emotional pain. While anger may serve you at times, when held on to excessively it does a great deal of damage both physically and psychologically over time.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, has proven to be an effective way to improve one’s overall wellbeing. Scientific research concludes that forgiveness is linked to mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, stress relief, improved self-esteem, as well as fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates.
You may want to forgive someone, but you’re struggling to know how to go about it.
Here are 3 lessons to learn that will help you forgive another person, and let go of the resentment.
Lesson #1: Put Yourself First, Always.
You wouldn’t choose to give yourself a headache.
When you have a headache, you do what you can to relieve the headache.
Holding on to resentment and choosing not to forgive is equivalent to banging your head against a wall to give yourself a migraine.
Begin to notice the headache you’re giving yourself.
Rather than perceiving your lack of forgiveness as a stance you’re taking against the other person…
Move your focus away from that person and equate holding on to resentment with causing yourself harm.
Shift your focus to be on what the resentment is doing to you, rather than why you are resentful of the other person.
Be aware of the pain it’s causing you and the impact such negative thinking can have on your life over time.
If holding onto resentment is like poisoning yourself, think of forgiveness as the antidote.
Adopt a mindset of forgiveness not because you are resigning to the other persons’ actions or sacrificing your values…
But because you are putting your own well being FIRST.
Lesson #2: They Are Not to Blame; Their Programming Is.
Think of someone you have a hard time forgiving.
Someone who has been difficult to deal with.
Imagine seeing the world through their “lens”, or their perspective.
Actually, go deeper than that.
Imagine you were not YOU.
Imagine you were born in their body, with their genetic code.
You were then raised exactly as they were; their parents, their environment, and their identical upbringing.
Would you be any different than they are?
Would your behaviors, habits, and character be any different from theirs considering you were exposed to the same exact genetics, conditioning, and programming as they were?
The obvious answer to this is ‘no’.
You would be EXACTLY as they are since all the elements that make up one’s personality, character, and behaviors are based on genetics, conditioning, and life events.
Knowing this intellectually is not enough.
Sit with this for a while and allow yourself to fully accept this truth.
When you can really see, understand, and accept the fact that you would be doing exactly what they would be doing had you been born and raised as they were, you come to a clear and apparent conclusion.
They are not to blame for the way they are.
Fully realizing this allows you to more easily forgive.
Ultimately, how could you resent someone based on actions that they were not “truly responsible” for?
Surprisingly, this exercise taps into our compassion for the other person.
We see that their behavior is based on a program that was not of their choosing.
We recognize that their actions are based on predetermined genetics and conditioning that occurred without their consent or planning.
We understand that they are innocent of the causes that led to the resulting character and behaviors. The causes, including their birth and upbringing, led to an effect of which they had no control over.
Accepting this truth enables us to let go of resentment, and instead, embrace compassion for the other party.
Lesson #3: Forgive the Person, Not the Behavior.
The first lesson highlights the real drive behind forgiveness, and that is to free yourself of the burden that accompanies resentment.
The second lesson identifies that the true cause of one’s behavior is not controlled by the perpetrator of the act.
This leads to the third lesson, which is to realize that you are not exonerating the behavior of the other person.
That is to say, you aren’t forgiving the act itself.
Rather than pardoning the actions of the other person, you’re forgiving the person who may not realize the repercussions of their actions.
You’re pardoning the person who, when it comes to their own genetics and programming, had zero say in the matter.
You’re exonerating the person who didn’t choose to be the way they are.
The behavior, on the other hand, you can choose to remain opposed to since it’s in violation of your personal values.
Your opposition is not fueled by anger, but rather a balanced and objective indignation of harmful behavior.
My hope is that these words extend an invitation that you choose to accept.
The invitation is to forgive because you’re choosing not to harm yourself any longer.
You don’t need to hold on to someone who harms you…
And you don’t need to hold on to the resentment either.
Forgive so you can be free.