Like many of us, I have had my share of bad experiences with people whom I loved, be it job-related, family-related, or friend-related, who hurt or crossed me in appalling ways, making me eligible for a free subscription to a lifelong membership of resentment, feelings of hurt and revenge.
For years, I held onto those stories like a baby holding onto their security blanket. The truth is, I held onto those stories with conviction to validate my anger and resentment, and prove being right, towards the people who were responsible for making my life miserable. I could always count on friends for supporting me, whenever I needed backup. They helped stir the boiling pot of resentment, self-pity and victimhood, in a friend-loving way, to help me get through it.
Revenge is the desire to get even when someone does you wrong. Getting revenge on someone who has wronged you can cause a lifelong, bitter battle with yourself. When we are so bent on getting back at the other person, revenge reduces you to your worst self, puts you on the same level playing field of that spiteful person you wish to strike back. In addition, studies have shown that revenge increases your stress levels, which causes your immune system to suffer.
Many people believe that if they hold onto that anger and resentment, that it will hurt the other person. The truth is, it is exactly the opposite. You suffer, your body suffers and your relationships with others suffer. While you’re making sure to never forgive that person, and prove you are right, you also verify with yourself that trusting others is just as bad as trusting the person who wronged you. Meanwhile, they are off living their life and you’re not living yours. As Confucius says, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
A tool I often use with my clients is The Work of Byron Katie. It takes them though the process of inquiry on their thoughts and stories of their life, and depicts who is holding them hostage in their life and why. Invariably in every situation, be it a horrible marriage or relationship, a judging parent, a hurtful friend, an obnoxious boss, they realize that when they argue with reality, what they think the other person should be, say or do, and they don’t live up to their expectations, they lose. They also come to realize it is their own self who holds them hostage, not the other person. Instead of spending years as the victim, it could be as simple as saying “If you don’t want for me what I want for me, let me help you pack.” In other words, let go, move on and start living your life according to your own dreams and desires.
Forgiving doesn’t mean condoning the other person or allowing the person back into your life. It is showing compassion for you. It’s allowing and accepting the life lesson in it and understanding they were put on your path by a higher means to help you grow, personally and spiritually. When you forgive, you show yourself self-care and self-love, as you realize how much more you have to offer. The more you listen to yourself, the stronger you become. You no longer give away your power to others. It is a gift you give yourself, that allows you to open your heart and stop being contracted and start living again. Make 2016 a great year with this gift!