Why Forgiving Someone is Really About Forgiving Yourself

In extreme cases like unjustified animosity towards someone (including myself) who doesn’t deserve it, I used to be able to hold a serious grudge. I kid you not! I could sit and chew on the bone of resentment for decades and you wouldn’t even know it. It would eat me up while I would go back and forth between ‘ Ooh my Gawd get over it!! ‘ and ‘I can’t wait to see them suffer all the plagues of hell’!! (in my evil spawn of Satan voice)

It was exhausting! Especially because the poison I was mentally spewing had no actual outlet. The target of my emotional dilemma had usually moved on with their lives ( or so it seemed ), enjoying the buffer between the harvest of their insensitive actions and the time it takes for Karma to collect her payment ( which she always eventually did).

‘Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’ (Buddha) – The meaning of this saying never quite hit me until recently. I realized that the importance of forgiving the other is because it implies that you care and forgive yourself.

You forgive yourself for being foolish, for being gullible enough to buy snake oil because you were driven by emotion. The reason the anger is so strong when someone hurts and betrays you is because you had let down your guard and allowed yourself to be vulnerable. You believe that if you had stayed cautious, there would be no anger to speak of because you would not have put yourself out there in the first place.

It is our shame that makes us upset at the other: ‘How dare you! How dare you take my kindness, my love, my trust and use it against me, to fool me and cause me so much pain!’. Usually the perpetrator becomes a non-issue because since life really is a series of moments closely following each other, that actual hurtful situation came and went. It’s now just a blip in the timeline of your life. It’s the mental reruns we put ourselves through that keep us stuck on repeat and have us re-experience the scene and the feelings attached to it over and over and over again.

In a more drastic but effective image, it’s like you taking the knife you were stabbed with and stabbing yourself over and over again  in the same wound, with the same force and the same intention. You’re just causing the cut to get wider, deeper – and while you’re bleeding  out you’re somehow hoping the other will collapse.

Wouldn’t the healthy thing to do be to get help? Go to a doctor, a nurse, a starling or anyone who can help you mend yourself, close the gap so you can feel good and pain free again?

It makes you wonder doesn’t it? Why would we hold on to things or people that harm us? Why does it have to be harder to choose healing over pain? It’s a choice, and any choice is a preference even though we might not like the options provided.

Forgiving is not forgetting. It’s deciding to close that wound, allowing it to heal. It’s accepting that though the scar will ensure you always remember what happened, the pain can become but a distant memory. There are already so many battles to fight in a world sometimes so unpredictable and scary –  the last thing you want to do is to use all your energy fighting you’re closest ally : yourself.

In other words : let that shit go…

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