“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
Forgiveness and Friendship
by Vicki Nunn
As you can imagine, holding onto grudges and focussing on how another has treated us unfairly, affects our mental and emotional health. But scarily, it can also affect our physical health as well, because of stress, lack of sleep etc.
One way to overcome the negative effects is to foster forgiveness. This goes against the grain of human nature because we want the whole world to know how badly we were treated or how awful another person has been to us. Somehow it seems unfair that the other person should be allowed to ‘get away with it.’
Holding onto grudges and anger simply increases our bitterness and hurt and oftentimes, the other person remains completely oblivious to what they did wrong. Therefore, no matter how much anger and bitterness we hold onto, that other person usually gets away scot-free anyway, and the only person that is affected badly, is us.
If we understand and accept that, then we should hopefully be able to move to the next step and try to forgive that other person. This will allow us at last, to let go of the bitterness and anger which after all, is only harming us. But how do we do that?
There are several things that we can try:
- Painful though it may be, try to recall the incidence which led to the hurt and attempt to understand what happened from the other person’s point of view, eg:
– could we have been mistaken in the identity of the culprit?
– could the other person’s actions have stemmed from something other than nastiness?
– could what the person said or did have merely been accidental or just the result of a poor attempt at communication or a joke?
- Ponder a time in our own life when we hurt someone and were forgiven. Consider how it made us feel to be forgiven and how it set things right between us and the other person. By offering forgiveness, the other person took the sting and the hurt out of the situation, and we could do the same.
- Write about forgiving the person who hurt us. We can do this in our gratitude journal (which we spoke of in the previous issue of SPAG). We can also write a letter to the offender (which we won’t send). Writing about it can help us put the incident and our feelings into perspective and clarify the situation in our own mind. It may help us determine what we could have done to possibly change things.
- The last step is to consciously make a choice to hold onto the forgiveness and to let go of our anger and hurt and especially the desire for revenge. Whenever negative feelings arise, talk ourselves through it:
“Those horrible feelings have come up again. They make me feel bad and are not helpful to me. If I hold onto them, they won’t affect the person who hurt me, but my pain will continue. I can let those feelings go and forgive that other person. Even if they don’t deserve my forgiveness, I deserve to feel better about this. I deserve to feel happy.”
One of the best remedies for improving our happiness, is to form one or two close friendships with some positive people. While electronically our connection with family and friends is increasing, the quality of our friendships and relationships seems to be suffering, and depression and loneliness is on the rise.
Good friends can reduce our stress levels, increase our confidence, and improve our happiness.
We need trustworthy friends with whom we can share our innermost feelings and thoughts; and friends that can make us laugh.
For some of us, finding friends can be difficult and we may need counselling to help us overcome problems or fears from the past or to help us improve our social and other skills so that we can interact better with other people.
Perhaps we have difficulty finding friends because we have cocooned ourselves in a safe environment where we never have the chance to meet anyone new, whether out of fear or laziness. We need to be willing to have a clear look at our environment and our activities to determine if we are deliberately hiding out and to determine if we can find better avenues for finding worthwhile friends.
Forgiveness can be scary because it means we have to be able to let go of something or someone that has hurt us, and somehow it doesn’t seem right that while we’re still hurting, nobody has been made to pay for the wrong-doing. But we must practice forgiveness so that we can move on if we are to heal and if we are to gain happiness.
Friendship is a good way to gain a healthier and happier perspective on life. Friends can help us to forgive, to let go, and to move on. Friends can make life worthwhile. [End]