Forgiveness is a charged word isn’t it? Whenever I hear it it and really contemplate its meaning, I alternate between feeling free, gentle and wholesome, or sad, angry and a little melancholic. As I expect many do, I associate the term with overcoming hurt or upset, and forgiving the person or people who have caused me harm.
This week’s task required me to think of a time somebody let me down or hurt my feelings. I was to focus on the hurt and name the emotions it made me feel, as well as any physical sensations that it instigated within the body. After this, I was to bring awareness to my mind and consider whether the thoughts I had were spiteful or hateful, and if so, question myself whether these are worth holding on to. The task then required me to try and see the situation from the other person’s or peoples’ point of view, and acknowledge that whilst I don’t have to condone their actions, I should still try to understand them. The result in doing this would be that I find peace by forgiving the person who caused me harm.
My attitude towards this challenge was very varied. I definitely hold grudges (it’s one of my least favourable qualities!), and I definitely need to improve on my forgiveness ability. But at the same time, I couldn’t gather the mental energy to start bringing up past occasions of hurt and upset and getting sad or angry all over again. If you’ve hurt me, you’ve hurt me, and I definitely don’t want to bring it all up again and get mad or upset for a second (or 50th) time around. Plus, the emotion I tend to feel when somebody hurts me is more sadness, than anger, and I already do try to see the person’s point of view!
This week’s challenge made me realise that I actually already approach anger and hurt in a fairly healthy way. I technically do this task every time I face such emotions. It was quite a nice feeling to realise that all this mindfulness over recent years may actually be helping behind the scenes, even if I don’t always see it. Something that’s really resonated with me over the years and is at the forefront of my mind when I’m experiencing negative emotions towards or about somebody else, is the age-old quote (although its origin is unknown, many different people have pioneered different versions of it over the years!) that:
Holding a grudge or being angry towards another person is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
This phrase has always resonated with me, because that is the essence of feeling anger about somebody else. I have spent so much time in my life being angry as a result of other peoples’ actions towards me, when I eventually learned that by doing this, I was essentially poisoning myself. Those other people aren’t hung up on how they made me feel, so why should I be? Don’t get me wrong, it’s easier said than done in the moment and I definitely haven’t learned the trick to reach a point of calmness and peace immediately, but I can come around a lot quicker nowadays. I admit, I don’t always forget things, but I do forgive and the grudge I hold lessens, at least. I understand that you should move on with your life and have nothing but love and positive thoughts for the person that hurt you, but nobody’s perfect! One step at a time, right?
So overall, I didn’t do this challenge this week because I do it every time I get hurt by somebody anyway. I always assess my feelings, my thoughts, analyse why I’m feeling and reacting the way I am and go deeper into the background. By doing this, I’ve found more understanding, self-love and peace over the years than ever before, and it’s the only way I’ve learned to deal with negative emotions towards others.
I know I’m seemingly Queen of Mindfulness this week, but joking aside, if you have any tips for letting go of grudges, hit me up. I could definitely benefit from some of those!