The other day, whilst on my delivery, I got talking to a lady who was doing a bit of gardening. It was a beautiful day, the second one in a row, and I was preparing my daily weather comment, such as:
- Nice day today
- Don't hold you breath, it might snow next week!
- What a job you have in this weather
- A great day for posties!
I was a bit taken aback. All my weather replies were useless.
'Yes, I am,' I said. 'Why do you ask?'
'I thought you would be,' she said, smiling. 'You see, our son is a consultant. We put him through all the education he needed, but he doesn't want anything to do with us now.'
I know this is only one side of the story, but honestly, if you were to meet this lady and her husband, you would instantly want to be their friend. They come across as genuinely nice people, really warm and caring . . . and they're always smiling and willing to talk.
Don't you think life is too short to hold grudges?
I personally feel tainted when I hold a grudge, as if I've created a ball of tension in my mind. It clouds my senses, making me numb to life and it's breathtaking expression.
So much time is wasted when we're unwilling to move on from past hurts. I know the deeper the wound the longer it takes to heal, but come on, people - LIFE, HERE ON EARTH, IS GONE IN AN INSTANT.
Unwilling to forgive someone for their past actions (or reactions) keeps you in that space and time when whatever it was occurred. You can't move on from it. It's like you've built your own mental dam; it prevents your life from flowing with ease.
How much regret one must have when the person (a member of our family, a friend etc) who we have issues with, who we've given the silent treatment for months or years, suddenly dies. (How do you feel about the permanent silent treatment now?) Surely then, when they've died, it must hit home that the only person who suffers for holding the grudge, unwilling to forgive, is the one who is holding the grudge and unwilling to forgive.
I'm sure it was the Buddha who said this (I apologies if it wasn't . . .) 'Holding onto anger is like holding onto a hot stone with only the intention of throwing it at someone. You are the one who ultimately gets burnt.'
And the same applies to grudges.
If you hold a grudge, if you're unwilling to forgive someone, then it is you who suffers. The grudge is within you, and so is the resentment, the hatred, the anger and the frustration - it's all there in you, poisoning your body and your mind, making you blind to the wonders of life that forever surround you.
Therefore, it is true that forgiveness is a selfish act, but that's fine, right? We can live with that. By forgiving, you're not letting the person off the hook, you're letting yourself off the hook.
How sad it is when people go through life blinded by their grief and their hatred for certain individuals. They have no idea (because surely they wouldn't do it if they did) of the damage they are causing themselves.
The lady then said, 'I've been telling everyone about my postman, and how he's always smiling and happy.'
One of the reasons why I'm always smiling and happy is that I forgive . . . I forgive others . . . and this is an important one - I forgive myself for any past actions that may have caused pain to others.
I know it's hard to forgive some people for the things they do and say. You only have to tune into the news to see how hard it must be to forgive people for the atrocities they commit. But when we choose not to forgive, we choose to suffer. And the last thing we want for ourselves when going through a tough time is more suffering . . . self-inflicted suffering at that.
Breaking Down Your Mental Dam
In your mind, picture the person who you find it hard to forgive.
See them standing before you.
Smile at them. (Try! Notice how it feels)
And say, 'Thank you, but I'm letting you go now. I'm taking my life back.'
And then make the image of them get smaller and smaller until it vanishes.
Take a few deep breaths and smile.
Notice how it feels to be back in control of your life? The burden as been lifted. If you don't feel like it has, then keep doing the exercise until the burden begins to feel lighter until eventually it vanishes.
You're in control - break that damn dam!