Saturday, April 16, 2011

Forgiveness For Wellness

Updated on 27th Jan 2015

#Forgiveness is the act of relinquishing grudges, bitterness & thoughts of revenge against someone who has wronged us.This is not easy because it is but natural to be aggrieved by treachery,deceit & intentional harm.Our immediate instinct is to give tit for tat & hurt the perpetrator in a similar fashion.Everything else is pushed to the background.Only the seething rage remains.This is detrimental to our health and happiness.

Ill effects of not Forgiving
*Bitterness can disassociate us from the here & now.It can divert us from more important issues and misdirect our energy.

*Harking back to the past prevents us from moving on.

*Our perspective, behavior & attitudes get distorted,which affects
  our relationships & isolates us.

*It prolongs & accentuates our pain;maybe even aggravates it.It is we,not the perpetrator who suffer more when we hold on to grudges.

*Our physical health,peace of mind and sleep are affected adversely. 

Ill Effects of Taking Revenge 
Not forgiving sometimes ends up in taking revenge.We might feel a rush of joy at having achieved our end but  the chain of events set in motion could adulterate this joy.

* What if our conscience condemns us for what we have done ?After the initial satisfaction we may even be ashamed of our behavior & regret having taken revenge? 

*The fallout could be larger & more ominous than what we had bargained for.

* We may regret having sealed the fate of a relationship?

*The various social,moral,psychological & legal repercussions 
  which follow could be disconcerting.

* An act of vengeance could lead to a prolonged spell of sparring ;with the outcome still being uncertain. 

When not to Forgive
There are instances where forgiveness can be counter-productive.In case of a major crime or injustice, it is best to take recourse to legal redress.Not standing up against gross aggression can be construed as our weakness & lead to repetition of  similar episodes. If vengeance breeds negativity then quiet surrender   damages our self esteem & social standing.

Any transgression from a close relative or someone who is in a position to harm us again cannot be ignored.Similarly someone who does not mend his ways or show any signs of remorse does not deserve forgiveness.All necessary protective measures ought to be taken in such cases.Two glaring examples come to my mind--that of marital abuse and child abuse.

Why Forgive?
 *Sometimes the feeling of being wronged or humiliated can be baseless too. There is a chance that it was not the other person's intention at all.Perhaps s/he was over stressed or overworked, & committed a mistake. Or he was simply careless & is now regretting his faux-pas. Does that entail a return-post from us? 

*When we forgive a person we are in fact protecting our own self from unseemly behavior. Looking at things from our opponent's point of view will endow us with more understanding & tolerance.

*If we find ourselves at the receiving end once too often, introspection is called for. Are we too sensitive? Do we carry a chip on our shoulder? Is our behavior brusque or insensitive? Perhaps we rub people the wrong way & they are forced to react. A frank appraisal of our own behavior will not only improve social relations but also lead to self advancement. As soon as we forgive someone we climb a step higher on the scale of personal growth.

Benefits of Forgiveness
*When we pardon an opponent we feel a sense of calmness suffuse our being. The burden of how to avenge ourselves, how to relate/respond to that person is suddenly lifted from our shoulders. We feel light & carefree once again.

*With this major obstacle out of our way, we can devote ourselves to more constructive jobs that we had put on the back-burner. Life can now advance at an even pace.

*Another significant benefit of forgiveness is, release from pain. As long as we focus on why & how, so & so abused us, we experience a lot of anguish.The perpetrator continues to monopolize our thoughts & feelings.But when we decide to pardon him, it is as if the pain dissolves , leaving behind a maturer self.

*Forgiveness acts as a safety valve on a cauldron of fury. Anger persists till we hold a grouse or consider revenge. As soon as we open our hearts to forgive & forget , anger escapes through the same route. 

*Forgiveness promotes not only emotional well-being but also physical fitness. Once our mind is cleansed of all the negativity arising from a revengeful attitude,we enjoy better health,sleep & stamina.

*Forgiveness heals relationships.

*When we talk of forgiveness,we must remember to direct it at our own selves too.We all make mistakes. Some of us are quick to pardon others' faults, but are very strict when it comes to our own. Not only faults,even our weaknesses & complexes need tender handling.All of us commit a mistake or a blunder sometimes---whether knowingly or unknowingly; and then repentance sets in .If it is pricking our conscience ,then it is better to ask that person's forgiveness, make amends & forgive ourselves.Excess remorse& flogging of self  make us melancholic.

Ultimately it is up to the aggrieved person to evaluate  whether forgiveness is beneficial or detrimental to his/her well being. According to Lewis B Smedes---" 
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was YOU!"
Some more thoughts on the subject at this site.