It is impossible to go through life without being hurt by someone – these hurts can be minor transgressions or catastrophic life-changing hurts. It is how we deal with these that defines how we continue on our journey.
We may be convinced we are the injured party, ‘You have hurt me. You made me suffer. I did nothing to deserve your behaviour. You don’t even admit you were wrong – I hate you, why should I forgive you?’
Simmering with Anger?
Some will seek revenge: ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’. But what does this achieve? Two parties blind and toothless trapped in a cycle of hurt and revenge.
Consider then, if this anger is a hot coal. Who does it harm? The person towards whom the anger is held or the person holding it? You may be familiar with this analogy drawn from the Buddha who described revenge as reaching into a fire and grabbing a glowing ember to hurl at the person who has offended. While it may or may not reach its target, the glowing ember will certainly burn the person holding and throwing it.
If not revenge, then what?
If revenge is ineffective and we can’t force another person to acknowledge their behaviour, how can we manage the situation? Understanding another’s journey goes a long way to changing how we view them. As a young teen I remember being harassed and slapped by another student, for no reason apparent to me. Over time, I learned more about this person’s life and met them again at 10 year intervals as an adult. Now I understand they came from generations of abuse and the cost of this traumatic upbringing to their health and well-being was clear.
Evidently she was parented by a victim, who was parented by a victim – how far should we go back to lay the blame and seek revenge?
I’m not suggesting that we simply ‘ignore and forgive’ someone if we are assaulted. Be safe. Seek support. Not all hurts are as minor as the one described (even though it didn’t seem minor to me at the time) as some of us have major trauma created by physical and emotional transgressions. But understand, they continue on in their life and if we want to move on in ours we need to come to terms with past transgressions and injustices.
Spinning our wheels and stuck in a cycle of revenge
While we may want to see retribution for another’s hurtful actions and change their behaviour, this is not truly possible. We can only change our behaviour and trust that every experience serves a greater purpose. Releasing control and negative thoughts about another, creates space for opportunity, positive experiences and thoughts. Maybe there is a greater purpose for life’s hurts? Perhaps the friend who repeatedly sabotages your friendship needs to be let go in exchange for healthier relationships. Perhaps releasing your ex creates room for your soul-mate? Perhaps understanding other’s failings allows us to acknowledge our universal fallibility as humans?
Choosing to hold on to hatred sacrifices a portion of our energy, keeps us spinning our wheels, bogged in past pain, and prevents us from fully enjoying life. Look for the lesson in every experience, let go, and move on.
This may sound odd, but if you are having difficulty finding forgiveness for another, how harshly are you judging yourself? Do you hold resentment and a lack of forgiveness for your own transgressions? Many clients who hold on to anger and resentment find it difficult to forgive themselves for their poor choices, ignoring their intuition or the obvious – falling in love with the wrong person, maintaining unhealthy relationships for too long, allowing themselves to be emotionally or physically mistreated. When these underlying aspects have been addressed they are ready to heal.
Choose forgiveness and choose freedom for ourselves.
So how is this possible?
Allow ourselves time to work through the transgression – the feelings of indignation, anger or rage, sadness.
Resolve our own issues with forgiveness of self.
Understand we continue to give the person who has hurt us power by holding onto our anger and resentment.
Realise holding on to anger and resentment are ways of holding on to that dysfunctional relationship and in effect keep us as victims.
Understand they are expressing their misery through their actions.
Choose to release anger and resentment.
Forgive the person, not the transgression.
It is almost impossible to move forward if you are being held to the past by anger, resentment and negativity. Imagine the release and relief of no longer being occupied with negative and hurtful experiences? Positive energy attracts positive relationships and healthy relationships only exist between healthy people.
I help people to heal their patterns of anger and resentment, and uncover inner peace through forgiveness. If you need support in your journey, contact me.