How many people have done bad things to you? How many bad things have you done to other people?
I have had times in my life, when I could answer with the word “many” to both questions. I have used my quickness of mind and tongue to say things that I later deeply regretted and have done things that hurt others.
To my credit, when I have done or said things that were “wrong,” I have usually gone to that person and explained myself, apologized and asked for his/her forgiveness. To my discredit, I did not apologize to everyone and still have to monitor myself, so that I don’t make the same mistakes, again.
In my past, there have been people who did bad things to me– and never apologized or accepted any wrongdoing. Therefore, I had, never forgiven them. The anger or disappointment that I carried around was not overbearing and it was not the utmost thing on my mind, until someone would mention that person’s name or I was reminded of the event in someway. When that happened, the anger (or want of revenge) would return to my mind, and I would start thinking about how I could get this person back or what I would say, if I saw that person again. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that carrying this anger and resentment inside of me and feeling a “need to get back” was a waste of time.
Let me explain. I had a friend – who ended up not being a friend, but someone who was out to, literally, destroy me. This person’s actions didn’t work. Yet, I carried anger toward this person for many years.
I recently saw this person again. We had a brief conversation, (where I said nothing that I had planned to say if I ever saw this person again) and even though this person didn’t bring up the incident or ask for my forgiveness, I was able to see how afraid this person was of me and my “success.” I felt sorry for this person, and it was then that I forgave this person.
What a release! I had been a prisoner in a cell that had this person’s name on the door and now I was free. Forgiveness gave me freedom from my self-imposed prison of anger.
What about you? Do you have a person in your life that causes you to be angry or resentful at the mention of that person’s name? If so, you need to release yourself from your mental prison cell. It may sometimes feels good to sit there and steam and plan your revenge, but let me tell you…you are wasting your time.
If this person does not have the courage to apologize and ask your forgiveness, then I can pretty much guarantee you that this person doesn’t even think about you nor does he or she view what he or she did to be “bad.” Therefore, your thinking of them and plotting your revenge is a waste of energy – energy that could be applied to creating what it is they you do want to have happen in your life.
Sit down in a quiet place and visualize that person whom you feel has said or done something bad to you and mentally explain why you are angry. Then try to see why that person may have done what he/she did to you. Did you do something first to cause the event to take place? Be honest with yourself. If you did, then you need to ask for forgiveness. If you can, do it in person or (at the least) over the phone. During this conversation, should this person ask for forgiveness, grant it immediately. Don’t “rub their nose in it” and make them squirm or give them ultimatums covered by humor, such as “Well, you better never do that again…(chuckle).” Just tell that person that you accept their apology and that everything has been “wiped clean.”
If you can’t speak to the person with whom you are angry or if you did nothing, and can honestly state that, then mentally forgive this person, wish them well, and turn off the mental picture. Close with a silent prayer that this person may be healed and that you are now healed and free from any anger or resentment toward that person. If you do this, you will feel a tremendous amount of relief. It will be as if a burden were lifted from your shoulders.
Depending on what happened to you, this may not be easy and you may have to try this exercise a couple of times before the full power of forgiveness can come into your being. Yet, it can be done.
How many of us could forgive someone who tried to kill us? Many of us were amazed when President Reagan and Pope John Paul II forgave their attempted assassins. Yet, isn’t that what Jesus taught? Isn’t that what Buddha taught? Reagan and Pope John Paul II healed their mental wounds through the power of forgiveness. They were not going to be fettered by the emotions of anger and rage when, by a simple change in their thinking, they released all the toxins of these emotions and continued to live peaceful, productive, and inspiring lives.
Could they forget what happened to them? No, of course not. Is it easy to forget the wrong that happened to me? No. Is it easy to forget the wrong that happened to you? No. However, through the healing power of forgiveness, you can look at what “happened” as a lesson or experience in your journey through life. A painful and, perhaps for some, a horrible experience, yet you lived through it and can learn from that experience.
Through forgiveness, the lesson will become clearer and your journey through life more meaningful. Through this healing, you may find that you now want to go and help others who have suffered through a similar experience and help them heal and move on with their lives.
Perhaps, your experience will give you the impetus to find a way to help others to not undergo a similar incident. (This is not revenge. This is using the powers given to you, as well as your individual knowledge to stop pain happening to others.) However, you can neither help others nor stop any problem from hurting others, if your energy is spent on personal anger and revenge. Ask yourself, “Is there something positive to be gained from this experience?” “Is there someone else that I can help?” “Is there something that I can do that will stop this from happening to others?” When you find the answer, follow it.
Let me close with a well-known story about two Buddhist monks who were both imprisoned for many years. The one monk said to the other, “Have you forgiven those who imprisoned us?” The other said, “No, I will never forgive them.” To which the other monk replied, “Well, then I guess they still have you in prison.”
Are you in your own mental prison of anger and revenge? Unlock your cell door and step out into freedom through the healing power of forgiveness.
A successful entrepreneur for nearly 30 years, Bob Garner is living proof that what he says works. Bob took a dream and turned it into a reality and now shares his entrepreneurial and business expertise combined with psychological and spiritual teachings at meetings and events worldwide. Recognized as a funny motivational speaker who actually has something to say, Bob is an author, a syndicated writer, and creator of numerous CDs. His free motivational podcasts generate over 30,000 listeners per episode.
2011Bob Garner. All Rights Reserved.
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