No one is perfect, without flaws or weaknesses. Everyone makes mistakes. Holding resentment, grudges and unforgiveness in your heart because of what others have said and done only backfires on you. It damages your relationships, health and peace of mind. It’s far more beneficial to forgive and be free.
You know all this.
And yet, you can’t seem to forgive and move on. Why is it so difficult to forgive?
When someone does something that you judge to be hurtful, it leaves emotional wounds in your heart. And so, just knowing you have to forgive, or saying you have to, is not going to help you release the emotions of pain, anger and sadness.
The pain is in the heart, you can’t let go of it through the head.
Your rational mind is very efficient in analysing, judging and coming to conclusions. But when it comes to releasing emotions lodged in the heart, it’s stumped.
That’s not to say that your rational mind has no role to play in the process of forgiving. Before the emotion can release from the heart, the mind has to understand the reasons why unforgiveness is no longer serving you and resolve to forgive.
Once you are convinced and determined to forgive, you can begin the process of healing.
So, the way to forgive and be free involves two steps. The first step is to convince the mind of the futility and negative consequences of unforgiveness, and the second involves releasing the pain from the heart and completing the process.
Let’s first look at the reasons why holding on to unforgiveness does not serve a higher purpose and is detrimental.
Why it’s good to forgive
One of the biggest reasons why we deliberately hold on to unforgiveness is because we think the perpetrator of the hurt doesn’t deserve it. We make the irrational decision to hold back forgiveness because somehow, we think it punishes him when we do.
Holding on to unforgiveness does not impose punishment or suffering on him. It punishes you instead.
The bitterness and anger burn you up inside. They bring you emotional stress which trickles down and manifests as many physical ailments such as headaches, digestive issues, heart and lung problems and so on.
What’s more, the suppressed hurt and anger will rise up when you least expect it, spoiling happy present moments and causing sudden upsets and negative reactions that you will regret.
And so, forgiveness is for you, not for the person who wronged you.
Forgiving does not make what he did right. But forgiveness makes you right. You need to forgive him for your sake, not for his. You’re the one who is suffering the pain, so you need to let it go.
Even if someone has no qualms about his actions and you feel that he does not deserve your forgiveness, you need to forgive for your own peace of mind and spiritual growth. It’s the right and noble thing to do.
To give you the strength and motivation to do this, uplift your mind with positive and inspiring words. Here’s an example from spiritual master, Swami Chinmayananda—Sandalwood perfumes even the axe that hurls it down. Such is the enchanting beauty of forgiveness.
The Law of Karma
Now let’s look at things from the perspective of the person who has done something to hurt you. Does he get away with what he did?
The simple answer is no.
This is because the universe is governed by infallible laws and one of them is the Law of Cause and Effect. This law expresses in our personal lives as the Law of Karma. No one can escape the effects of his or her actions. In fact, the results of an action are inherent in the action itself. So, they will surely manifest.
We needn’t concern ourselves with retribution for the wrongdoer. It’s not necessary that we see or know it, or mull over when it will come. Suffice it to know that the Law of Karma is incontrovertible and will ensure that justice is done.
I know it may be controversial and perhaps hard to swallow, but consider this…
All our experiences, negative or positive are the results of our own past actions. The Law of Karma safeguards that nothing happens to us randomly or by chance. There are no accidents, only incidents. When you accept this spiritual perspective, you will understand that the negative experience you underwent as a result of the words or actions of another demonstrates that this was something warranted by you by your own past actions (perhaps even from a past life).
But you needn’t look at it as a negative thing. You see, ultimately, we are all here for our soul’s evolution. The person whom you are holding rancour and aversion to is actually giving you a precious opportunity to learn how to forgive and grow.
Churning over these facts eventually gives rise to a desire to forgive and be free.
Short term solutions
Forgiveness is not something you can force. This happens naturally over time when you are ready to accept what happened and convinced of the need to let go of the pain you yourself are perpetuating.
When you are ready to release the emotions of anger, pain, and bitterness from your heart, you may scream, shout, punch a pillow, cry, talk to someone, or do any number of things.
Although these may be good short-term solutions, they are not enough, because the wounds of the heart remain unhealed. You may think you’ve overcome them but one day, someone or something may remind you of the painful incident and it will trigger a surge of the very same emotions in your heart.
The real solution to heal from the pain of unforgiveness
When you’ve exhausted all your options, tried every way you know to permanently heal the pain, you’ll come to a stage when you’re ready for some divine intervention.
The real solution to heal the pain in your heart is sincere prayer and surrender to God, the universe or the divine. It is your faith in God that will invoke Her grace and healing. (“His” or “Her”, God has no name or form, and you can use any pronoun you wish.)
When you feel a true and heartfelt urgency to heal, when the pain of holding on to the ill-feelings is unbearable, you turn to God for help. You beg for healing and release with genuine candour…
Help me, save me please. I am completely exhausted. I need your help. I no longer want to hold on to any bitterness or hatred in my heart. Please help me; release me from this pain. I can’t do it on my own. I seek your grace and healing, dear God. I surrender totally to you. Please heal me from within, release me and bring me peace of mind. I surrender myself wholly to you and beg for your grace and healing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
When you earnestly pray like this, when burning tears flow down your cheeks, know that your pleas have been heard and the healing has begun. God is an ocean of mercy and goodness. She is in the hearts of all people. She knows your heart and will surely transform you.
Forgiveness begins with convincing your head of the benefits of letting go of the ill-feelings. Prayer releases the pain from the heart and completes the process.
Letting go of unforgiveness through ardent prayer brings you peace and permanent freedom from the pain, hatred and anger in your heart.
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