Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Forgiving--Whom,When and Why

Forgiving is often extolled as a balm for wounds inflicted by others' inconsiderate or aggressive behavior.It puts an end to a painful chapter so that we can focus on the here and now,without ghosts from the past distracting us.It initiates a healing process by virtue of which we regain our peace of mind,physical health and sleep.Our relationships and our life,slide back to normal.Yes,forgiveness can accomplish all that.
But there is no single size which fits all,because the offending behavior could range from crime,abuse,victimization,treachery and swindling to ridicule,humiliation,favoritism or plain neglect.The magnitude of offence certainly has a bearing upon whether it should be forgiven or punished.Holding grudges or mulling over offending behavior can cause anxiety and depression,but forgiving serious personal violations is also not conducive for one's peace of mind.So what is a person to do?Tough question--it is a catch 22 situation.
The decision to forgive or not, anchors upon many factors.Have a look:--
How severe is the offence ?
It goes without saying that crimes have to be reported to the concerned authorities,but what about abuse,which very often goes unreported?Especially physical,sexual and marital abuse?If a victim forgives the perpetrator in these cases then she exposes herself to further transgressions.  
How long back was it committed ?
If a wrong was committed a long time back and has not been repeated thence,then it certainly needs to be forgiven;because holding grudges for long periods only causes misery.It serves no purpose.Adult survivors of abuse often carry the scars for years,even decades;but by doing this they miss out on living life to the fullest.
Is the perpetrator out of your orbit?
If someone who hurt you terribly is no longer in your vicinity and is not likely to cross your path again,then that person should be forgotten and forgiven at the soonest.But if the culprit moves around in your circle then it would be a folly to forgive him--you have to make your displeasure known in no uncertain terms.
How is the perpetrator related to you ?
Some relationships cannot be terminated--however unkind or     insensitive that person might have been.Holding on to rancor against that person makes it difficult to function within that setup.There will always be an invisible wall between you two.This could be a parent,sibling,offspring,spouse,boss or a colleague.
Was the offence a one time occurrence or is it the norm ?
You can overlook a slight here, or an irritation there;but if someone is in the habit of belittling or domineering you at every possible opportunity then you have to stand up and say'this is enough,I shall have no more of it.'
Are you sure the affront was intentional and targeted at you ?
It is possible to misinterpret or take personally,a remark or gesture which was not meant that way at all--specially if you are in a vulnerable frame of mind.It is best to make sure before taking umbrage.

How To Forgive
Forgiving anyone is not easy.Even after you have decided to forgive,your heart may not support your decision and you will have to reinforce,convince yourself that this is the right thing to do.The following tips can help you along:---

  • Let time elapse.It will bring down your emotions from a boiling point to a low simmer.
  • Run through your mind a larger picture of the culprit's behavior and character, filtering out the act which stung you.Is he a nice person otherwise?Will you be safe after you forgive him?
  • Make an allowance for human frailties--none of us is perfect.You or I too,might have hurt many,did they harbor animosity towards us?Let me share my own experience with you.This happened only last month.Quite a few years back I broke off with a friend because she said something malicious and false about a friend of hers with whom I was not even acquainted.Lodging myself on a high moral ground,I cut her off completely.Then last month I thought she was considerably older than me,I too had reached seventy;how much time did we both have?So I just walked over to her home.Her enthusiastic welcome and unalloyed smile gave me a lesson for life.It was as if I had never shut her out of my life,she had forgiven me totally.
  • Go back to the episode which is smarting you and replay the whole sequence.Did you in any way instigate or annoy that person?Forgiving becomes easy if we too had a part to play in it.
  • A lot of time and energy go into consolidating a relationship but it takes only a moment to destroy it.If you value this relationship then nurturing resentment is not going to keep it that way.It is true that this person has hurt you, but recollect the good times you had with him and the moments when he was there for you.Won't you be sorry when the warmth dwindles to zero degree temperature?
  • Take a look at your mood these days-are you always pent-up,preoccupied and miserable?This will continue as long as you harbor resentment against the offender.Would you not like to go back to your old cheery self?This will happen only if you forgive that person.You should not suffer for someone else's misbehavior.
The decision to forgive or not is a very subjective one.Some people are very quick to take offence while some others forgive very easily.Definitely the latter are the happier lot.At the same time overlooking major violations against us, endangers our security and ruins our self worth.

For some people forgiving is not an option at all--they want revenge at any cost.This choice is full of land-mines.It puts all else on hold while the protagonist goes all out to take his revenge.Is it not possible to let the offender stew in his own juice and meet his own destiny?There is something like celestial justice after all!

As Gautam Buddha 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." 







27 comments :

  1. I am one of those Indu ji who just forgives as soon as possible almost immediately SIMPLY because I find it too harrowing an experience to nurse a wound for long I feel by not forgiving we harm ourselves more than the person who has done it ---I think i beive in what Budha has said though I never knew about it before I read your blog ---

    -but then the other sentence is also true overlooking major violations against us, endangers our security and ruins our self worth.-----overlooking major violations against us, endangers our security and ruins our self worth.---But then those kinds of cases are not very frequent -----though we do come across them too .

    Thanks once again for a post worth pondering over .

    lots of love
    rajni

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    1. Your attitude about forgiveness makes a lot of sense Rajni.No wonder you are the happiest person i could possibly meet.
      Yes serious violations are not so very rampant-most of us sweat about minor incursions into our domain.
      I am glad you liked it Rajni.
      Love n hugs.

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  2. I am sorry,but,I am not the one to forgive and forget...

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  3. I appreciate your candid comment-no need to say sorry.

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  4. Hmm - on a personal note, I am like BK Chowla. I neither forgive not forget.

    BUT - from the perspective of your own mental well-being, it is ALWAYS better to forgive, if you can. Regardless of who, what, why etc. since not to forgive makes you live out that hurt over and over again.

    The who, what, why should be taken into account to consider whether to prolong the relationship or cut off from it.

    Like I said at the outset - in this I can only preach. I am, as yet, unable to practise.

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    1. I am surprised Suresh,i misjudged you here.
      It is certainly difficult to forget--i never forget an insult--but i do forgive,though after a lapse pf time.

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    2. I, for my part, Indu, find it a shade easier to forget but not forgive. In fact, the only way I avoid the negativity involved is to forget the issue. THAT is possible only if it is with people with whom I do not interact again.

      THAT sort of reaction, of course, is for hurt caused by betrayal of trust, not small things like forgetting my birthday or something :) When my trust is betrayed, I cut the person out of my life to the extent possible (possible with 'friends' but not entirely with family). AND I push the incident out of my mind. If something happens to revive the memory, the anger is normally still as hot, unfortunately. THAT I have been unable to rid myself of.

      The reason why I am able to still maintain a happy-go-lucky attitude to life is because I CAN cut unworthy people out of my life and do not keep revisiting either them or the incident.

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    3. No doubt it is essential to block unworthy folks out of your life--i am rather hasty in doing so but i am happy to do it when negativity from someone exceeds positivity.

      Thanks for sharing your views Suresh-i always look forward to them.

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    4. Ah! I missed out one thing that needs clarifying. I do forgive when the other person expresses remorse. All that thing about not forgiving was related to when the other person does not seem to acknowledge the hurt that he has done me. When the person does not give me closure is when I close the issue by shutting off the relationship :)

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    5. Yes Suresh if the other person is not at all bothered about how much he has hurt us,he does not deserve forgiveness and a repentant one certainly does.
      Thanks for coming back Suresh.

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  5. Much needed topic, Induji!
    That hot coal incident is so true & I try to remind myself of it. Tough!!!
    Wish we could just forget, forgiving would be easy :)
    Best wishes to all!

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    1. I too think that forgetting is harder than forgiving Anita.
      Glad you found it useful :)
      Love n hugs

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  6. I need to learn as i cant forget and that is one reason why i cant forgive or sometimes when tables are turned ask for forgiveness tooo ..

    I think all this will go with me when i die ..

    Bikram's

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    1. Bikram don't talk of dying.Realization is the first step towards change.We are evolving all the time.

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  7. Hi Indu any wrong done mostly has a deeper reason than somebody being a bad person... We are all born as sweet innocent babiEs aren't we ? but sometimes vice totally occupies a person's mind and totally clouds any warmth ...apart from such extreme cases usually there is a lot of other reasons ....maybe no guidance since childhood , wrong company , extreme difficulties , extreme love for something etc ... I feel if a person regrets his act he deserves forgiveness no matter how serious his wrongdoing is .... There is no worse punishment than ones own guilt and remorse

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    1. Jaishree you have a magnanimous heart.I agree that when a culprit repents he should be forgiven.Have a good day'
      Love.

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  8. I think forgiveness is the first step towards healing. Why let a wound fester for long and corrode your soul.

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    1. Certainly,it is the first step towards healing.Thanks for reading Purba.
      Have a nice day :)

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  9. Thanks Indu. This has been a very therapeutic post. I know I have to work harder to let go of some issues. It hasn't been easy.

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    1. So nice of you to say so Ilakshi.i am glad you found it useful.
      Certain things are hard to overlook.

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  10. Interesting analysis, Indu. So for, I have not had any experience that has made me see the need for keeping a long term grudge. Hopefull I never experience.

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    1. Lucky you-remain that way.
      Have a nice week Karthik:)

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  11. I may forget, but forgiveness... I am not sure I can do that.
    A good read Indu.

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  12. That is an exhaustive post, covering all points that need to be said. When it involves a family member it is a little difficult to cut off a relationship even if it is hurtful (not abusive, because an abusive relationship needs to be chopped), but when it concerns others, including friends, it is best to cut it off, especially when there is no remorse on the person's part as Suresh has pointed out. Ultimately it is best to move on, for one's own sake.

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    1. I am glad you resonate with me Zephyr.
      You said it all in a nutshell.
      Love n hugs.

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  13. Replies
    1. Nwamaka that's a very sweet comment.I am glad you liked it.

      Welcome to jeeteraho :)

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Thanks for reading my post.I hope you liked it :).