Friday, 17 January 2020

To Forgive is Divine

It is the beginning of the New Year and a new decade, and what better way to begin than on a clean slate. Set new goals - get into shape, break patterns, raise your standards; indeed, forgive those that have hurt you and move on.

Have you ever felt so angry, hurt and disappointed that you lie awake at night, tossing and turning? Blood courses through your veins as you mull over what they said, did or did not do. Your heart races, your face transforms into folds of fury at the mere mention of their name. You may even make a loud, contemptuous snort or look away at the sight of them.

 And, when they are finally out of sight, you exhale a sigh of relief, thinking – that showed them. That knot in your stomach unwind, and your body rests for you have proved a point and revealed to the person just how much you despise them. And, that feeling of satisfaction finally disperses the lump in your throat, perhaps bring back that spring in your step.

Alas, the feeling does not last. It never does. 

Before long, the anger and hurt come rushing back. Your body goes into a frenzy as it slips back into another whirlwind of emotion. The actions of your so-called nemesis begin to torment you once again. The words they uttered during your row keep ringing incessantly inside your head. Their actions or lack thereof gnaw away at your soul, and may even chirp away at your confidence. Your body becomes paralysed, robbing you of everything good – joy, creativity, gratitude - because your object of torment has now become your sole focus. It is all you can think about.

You are hurting, and that is understandable. 

Illustration by Nichollekobi

But I have news for you. 

More often than not, the person that dumps rubbish inside your heart and soul forgets about you the moment their back is turned. They go on to lead their lives and on their terms while you are left reeling, broken and debilitated. 

Emotions are necessary. For example, anger and hurt can alert to that which we do not like. By experiencing them, we get to reflect, and in some instances, they can become the motivation we need to make changes in our lives. But anger, hurt and disappointment, if not well-managed lead to bitterness, resentment and hate. 

Science informs us that anger as an intense emotion triggers that fight and flight response. The body recognises that something is wrong and releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help it cope – your blood pressure rises, your heart rate soars, and the gut becomes compromised as the brain shunts blood away from it and towards the muscles as it positions itself for a physical attack. If this happens long enough, your body gives way to disease - headaches, digestion problems, stress, depression, heart attack, stroke, and so on. 

So how do you liberate yourself from this soul-destroying mission?

The short answer is you forgive. 

You do not have to shake a person's hand, give them a peck on the cheek or let them know you have forgiven them. Exhale and let it all go because forgiveness is about you, not them.

And, there are steps you can take, which are:

1) Realise that you cannot control someone’s actions, thoughts and behaviour. But, you can control yours.

2) Embrace your feelings and allow yourself to feel what you feel. You are human, after all.

3) Practice gratitude, because no matter how bad things get, we all have something to be thankful for.

4) Think positive and breathe life into your soul - this boosts your confidence and self-esteem and  you will need this to tackle the next stage which is;

4) Do not give value to hurtful words and actions. If someone knows you go on a rampage whenever they push your buttons, there may decide to amuse themselves by playing with your emotions. 

5) Instead of reacting negatively, turn things around. One way you can do this is by being kind. Kill them with kindness as the saying goes. A mean feat, but doable. 

6) Work on your negotiating skills; talk things through and find common ground if it is something you can agree on.

7) Last, but not the least, consider the possibility that you could be wrong about a person and their intentions. Sometimes people hurt us unintentionally, therefore, having an open mind allows us to see things from a different perspective. 

As hard as it is to do, you can forgive. The only person you have power over is yourself. When you learn to let go of that anger and resentment, you take back the reins of your life. Other people’s actions can no longer haunt you. 

To quote the words of the wise: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” 

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