Thursday, 2 June 2016
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." Great quote and I couldn't have said it better myself.
Have you ever felt so angry, hurt and disappointed that you lie awake at night, tossing and turning? Your heart races, your blood becomes hot as it rushes through your veins the moment you hear their name or see them. You crease your forehead, make a loud contemptuous snort or look away. And, when they are finally out of sight, you exhale and think to yourself - that showed them. You are pleased that now they know how much you despise them. How displeased and hurt you are by them.
But lo and behold, the feeling does not last. It never does. Before long the anger comes rushing back. Your body goes into a frenzy as it slips back into another whirlwind of emotion. Their actions torment you. Their words keep ringing incessantly inside your head, gnawing away at your soul. Your body has become paralysed, robbing your brain of creativity because your sole focus is now the object of your torment.
You are angry, and you are hurting, it is understandable. But, I have news for you. More often than not, the person you are losing sleep over. The one who has dumped rubbish inside your heart and soul forgets all about you the moment they turn their back on you. They go on to lead their lives and on their terms while you are left there, broken and paralysed.
Anger can be a necessary emotion at times. It alerts us to what we do not like forces us to reflect and, in some instances, motivates us to make some changes for improvement. But anger, if not well managed, is one of those emotions whose consequences are genuinely destructive. Anger leads to bitterness and holding on to grudges which are even stronger emotions.
When you are angry and bitter, you develop reckless tendencies. You spew words without thinking and/or make rash decisions. Often times the words uttered in anger are words best kept to oneself. And, we all know that once they are out there, words cannot be retrieved. Decisions propelled by rage can be destructive and have far-reaching consequences. They leave a lasting dent. A dent that can be impossible to repair.
Forgiving someone who has wronged you can be the most trying thing one can ever do. More so if the person who has hurt you is unrelenting. They won’t acknowledge your pain and/or show the slightest bit of remorse. But holding on to anger or a grudge will not help you either. What you are doing is putting your body under a great deal of strain moving from one emotion to the other. Your body has to try and keep up with all the havoc going on inside of you. But the truth of the matter is it cannot. Sooner or later something will have to give. And, in this case, it is your own health. When you hold on to anger and/or a grudge, you do not hurt the other person. You destroy YOU!
Science informs us that anger as an intense emotion triggers that fight and flight response. The body recognises that something isn't right and it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help it along. The gut is compromised as the brain shunts blood away from it and towards the muscles as it positions itself for a physical attack. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate soars, sweat oozes out of you and your temperature rises. And if this happens long enough your body gives way. Disease creeps in. Headaches, digestion problems, stress which leads to depression, heart attack, stroke; I could go on and on.
So how do you liberate yourself? How do you combat this soul-destroying mission?
The short answer is you forgive. Yes, forgive them wholeheartedly. Exhale and let it all go. You don’t have to shake their hand or give them a friendly peck on the cheek. You don’t even have to tell them you have made the conscious decision to forgive them. Forgiveness is about YOU, not them.
But, there are more steps you can take too, which are:
1) Recognise and realise that you cannot control someone’s actions, thoughts and behaviour. But, you can control yours.
2) Embrace your feelings and thoughts. Allow yourself to feel what you feel because you are only human and there is nothing wrong with that.
3) Think positive thoughts about yourself. This boosts your confidence and self-esteem. You will need this to tackle the next stage which is the hardest.
4) Do not give value to hurtful words and actions. If a person knows that you go on a rampage every time they push your button, there may decide to amuse themselves by playing with your emotions. Why not if you have made it easy for them by becoming too predictable? You have probably become a source of amusement. Once you realise that, you must withdraw the power they now have over you. Do this by not engaging in their trivial pursuits. Which brings me to my next point;
5) Modify how you react to things. Turn it around. Kill them with kindness as the saying goes. No mean feat, but it is doable. Your reaction will catch them off-guard and perhaps make put a halt to their conniving ways.
6) Maybe now is the time to work on your negotiating skills. Talk things through and find common ground if it is something you can agree on.
7) You have a right to say NO to things which leave you feeling resentful. Say what you think and feel, firmly, calmly and clearly. Stand your ground without being aggressive and realise that in life you cannot always avoid conflict. You just got to develop the skills to approach a difficult situation until you come up with a resolution that leaves everyone satisfied.
8) Last, but not the least, consider the possibility that you could be wrong about them and their intentions. There are times when people hurt us unintentionally, and it is only by approaching them and talking things through rationally that you realise they never meant to hurt us. No one is perfect, after all.
As hard as it is, you can do it. It will be hard but recognise that the only person you have any power over is yourself. When you let go of anger and that grudge, you are taking back the reins of your life. They can no longer hurt you because their actions no longer affect you. Do not forget that no one is perfect and people will disappoint you. The most important thing to remember is that you hold the key!