I think it’s safe to say that everyone has been hurt in some way or another. We all heal and cope with pain differently, but some people accumulate grudges after being hurt and create a mindset full of anger, frustration, and confusion. Maybe it’s a way to protect ourselves from similar happenings in the future or maybe it’s simply the easiest way to deal with our damaged feelings. Regardless of the reason, by holding onto grudges or staying angry at another, the only person you end up hurting is yourself. Just as Buddha once said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Holding a grudge surely won’t take back the harm done to you and also won’t make your healing process go any more quickly or smoothly. Remaining bitter will only enable you to carry negative emotions into your future relationships or experiences, trapping you in downward spiral of unhappiness and frustration. When you let go of grudges and release the resentment you have accumulated over time, you are forgiving the ones who have betrayed you. With the right attitude, you have the power to forgive anyone who has ever hurt you, opening up your heart to a whole new world flourishing with peace and love.
I experienced the power of forgiveness on one cool spring evening during my senior year of college. I was lying in bed reading an online article about the power of forgiveness and how liberating it can be. I can’t remember exactly what the article said or who wrote it, but it was obviously powerful enough to persuade me to practice forgiveness, a concept that was relatively new to me. Moments after finishing the article, I decided I was tired of hoarding resentment towards the ones who’ve previously harmed me – why let them continue to hurt me by staying mad? I pondered, the past is the past and I must leave it at that. Hate and anger really do take so much energy. From now on, I will use this energy instead to practice compassion and forgiveness.
I forgave an ex-boyfriend for betraying me, an old friend for being disloyal, a man I dated who failed to tell me that he was engaged, among a few others. During my episode of forgiveness, I cried for about five minutes straight. My pillow was absolutely soaked. But these weren’t tears of sadness; these were tears of happiness. I had never loved myself as much before as I did in those five minutes of sobs. After I had no tears left in me, I realized that my feelings towards the ones who have hurt me transformed entirely, and I no longer felt anger towards them. I felt a deep sense of inner-peace and compassion.
Releasing grudges and welcoming compassion into my heart has one of the most therapeutic experiences for me. For so long, every time I thought about the harm done to me, I would find myself bursting with frustration, pointlessly pondering how someone could have the audacity to commit such careless acts. Now when I think about the people who have betrayed me, I no longer have hard feelings towards them; I understand that I can’t control anyone’s actions but my own. Although I decided to forgive these individuals, I will not forget their wrongdoings; I just won’t let their past actions disrupt my current state of mind.
During my episode of forgiveness, I also forgave myself for holding onto grudges and for not being able to let go of the anger sooner. The next morning, I woke up with red, swollen eyes, but with a heart full of love; love for others, and most importantly, love for myself. From that day forward, I made the decision to live a life full of love towards the ones who’ve caused me joy, instead of a life full of hate towards the ones who’ve caused me sorrow.
Would you like to do the same? If so, practice forgiveness.