All of us at some point in time are given a choice to either forgive and move on with a spring in your step or hold on to grudges close to your heart and move ahead with a heavy inner self, which gets unbearable sooner or later. The grudge may be against a particular person, but the effect it has is on our entire being and it plays a major role in how you deal with other relationships and issues you are already dealing with in your lives. The choice we make is, hence, quite critical. But just like love, forgiveness too cannot be forced. It is not that one needs to necessarily forget and forgive; but as mentioned earlier, it requires to be practiced to ensure one’s own emotional health. Needless to say, people who forget and forgive are much happier people and are at peace with themselves and life in general. And just like one needs some patience and perseverance to inculcate a good habit to reap long term benefits, this too needs a bit of training – training of your mind.
Stop playing the Victim
Till you feel a victim, you are in your comfort zone. After all, the feeling of ‘I was right’ is so good, isn’t it? It puts you on an imaginary high pedestal of accepted human behaviour. And that’s precisely why we do not want to break free from that frame of mind. But you have to realise that even if it was you who was wronged and it was the other person who was at fault, you need to let go of the attachment towards your ‘being right’. Until you don’t free your mind from the past incidences, the incidences of pain or betrayal, the knot in your heart will not loosen and you will continue to feel miserable and nurture your hate and anger.
Initially, this bitterness will be for the person concerned, but eventually the bitterness will start overflowing. You will become a bitter person. That is what bitterness and anger do to you when they stay in your system for too long. So if not for anyone else, stop being a victim or witness to others’ wrongdoings. You are the only one responsible for how you want to be treated as. No one can make you feel miserable, but you alone.
It’s about you, not them
Forgiving is not an act of charity or a gift you give to the person who wronged you, but an obligation on your own self by freeing your mind and heart from a particular moment in time or a particular person. By choosing to forgive, you break your bondage from your unpleasant memories. Because till you do not forgive, you will continue to relive the horrid past over and over again which obviously gets difficult to bear (wasn’t once enough?).
You are the one who decides how to react to a particular situation. You cannot control the way people feel, speak or act but you can surely control your own reactions to their actions. Do not blame others for filling you with anger or resentment. It is your choice, your decision which will fill you with such negativity. It is not what happened to you, but how you responded to it which makes all the difference to your internal peace and tranquility.
Agreed that a feeling of outrage will follow every unacceptable behavior towards you, but let it be for a short period of time. Don’t let it lurk around in your mind. Pull it out and get rid of it at the earliest; after all, it is the favour you are extending towards yourself.
You can say that forgiving is an act of selfish interests, because when you forgive, you assure your own peace and happiness. You assure that you move ahead with lesser emotional baggage, making life a happy experience and a joyous journey full of contentment. So don’t be selective or try putting conditions when you forgive. Forgive unconditionally to ensure an unlimited quota of happiness in your life.
One gets hurt only by people who matter in their lives. The feeling of betrayal creeps in your heart when you are deceived by the one closest to you. But when you practice forgiveness, the relationship is not only saved, it also becomes stronger, as you will now be more careful while handling yourself (yes, you are supposed to handle yourself, not others) with not only the person concerned but also similar people and situations.
But before you forgive, remember that forgiveness is not about being a doormat or ignoring and overlooking every time someone wrongs you, but it is about having a greater deal of respect and love for yourself and your happiness. It is about choosing to let go of the past. It is about choosing positivity to melt resistance from your life and making space for bigger and better things rather than unnecessary clutter of negativity and bitterness. Forgiving gives you compassion, hope, and helps you grow. You become a better person if you learn to forgive.
But forget intelligently
This is a bit tricky and there is a thin line between being a fool and being wise while you choose to forget. Firstly, it is true that one can never actually forget an act or a painful sequence in one’s life. But if you choose to forgive, it becomes necessary to forget too. But you do not actually have to forget, because it will not be possible; you have to remember the past without feeling the pain or self pity.
Forget the incident and the actual sequence of events, including the brash words or actions but never forget the lesson you learnt after going through the trauma. The so-called unpleasant incidents of our lives are, in fact, life’s strange ways to teach us the lessons which we refuse to learn while life is showing us its rosy side. So it is very essential to look beyond the apparent situation to see and imbibe the wisdom which is waiting to blossom in our mind.
You also do not need to forget; instead, you need to remember what happened in order to avoid letting it happen again. You need not remember to give fodder to sulking; but to prepare you for the future and help you in staying alert. So be intelligent and forget selectively; choose the lesson and then discard the unpleasant memories tagging along with your past. Don’t be a fool to completely ignore and erase the unpleasant past or the offender, but remember where to draw the line and when your buttons are pushed.
It is easier said than done, but when your happiness is at stake, nothing else should matter. So go ahead, smile and move on, taking everything in your stride.
As Buddha said, “Happy people build their inner world and unhappy people blame their outer world.”