HOW TO FORGIVE

Hurt people...hurt people. 

Every person who hurts you has been on some level hurt themselves. They are simply passing it on but you have the power to stop the cycle. You can start today.

Up until a few years ago my whole life and outlook on the world was made up off a series of resentments, from something silly my teacher said in year three to the death of a loved one. I carried them around with me everywhere I went and without realising they controlled my every move.

I think we are all a little bit like this. Every time we are cut up in traffic or spoken rudely to we unknowingly add it to our collection, weighing us down just a little more. Over time my belief is that a lot of our personality and the way we interact with the world becomes a reaction to these resentments and eventually we can lose ourselves completely. 

For example, on a very simple level try thinking about a time when you were angry at something. Then think about how you interacted with the people around you. Were you acting like yourself? Were you kind and caring or were you acting out through anger? Most of us would admit it was anger that directed our behaviour. I think sometimes we can live our whole lives in this way.

For some of us these resentments are too painful and we snap. We drink, take drugs, get angry or hurt ourselves. Resentments can kill us...of that I have no doubt. 

For me, resentments kept me drinking and in order to stop I had to face them head on and as thoroughly as possible. Anyone in a recovery program I'm sure will relate. Three and a half years later (and sober) I have a new way of looking at situations that allow me to deal with resentments here and now and not become consumed in them.

So what is the answer? How do you manage to not get angry at someone cutting you up? How can you not stay made at someone robbing your phone, stealing your car or shouting at you at work?

For me, I have learnt to look past the person and into the pain. I have learnt the power of empathy. The power to see something from another point of view. It's not about me being right and them being wrong. It's not even about them being right and me being wrong. It's simply understanding the situation at a deeper level.

Let me give you a simple example. 

I was walking down the road a few years ago and a guy on a corner was staring at me while smoking a cigarette. As I got closer I could see he was glaring at me and one had gone to my school only a few years above. As i passed him he spat down at me feet and then flicked his cigarette butt towards my face. 

As I walked on I was angry. I felt wronged. I felt weak for not confronting him and embarrassed that i'd let someone treat me like that. For two years I hated this guy for making me feel that way and felt no place in my heart for forgiveness. Not only that, the embarrassment or weakness I felt from not confronting him came out through my behaviour and actions in other ways...i became unwilling to be open and subconsciously aware of never looking weak . That was until I was forced to bring this situation back up in some recovery work. It was then things changed.

I suddenly remembered this kid in school had been so badly beaten up a few years previously that he'd spent a week in hospital. I also remembered the kids had laughed and joked about his unstable family situation before hand which is what prompted the confrontation. I suddenly felt for this guy. I imagined how I would of felt being brought up in a unstable environment like that, not to mention it getting thrown back in my face. I thought how I would of longed for control and to be respected. And then it hit me.

Although his actions were non excusable. I could understand the mentality. This dude was in pain himself and was simply acting out in a way that made him feel momentarily respected and in control. The same way I had done following our interaction. I suddenly saw this cycle and accepted it for what it was. It wasn't personal to me. It wasn't even about me. He was simply a hurt person hurting others.

You see, someone's outer actions are more than likely a reflection of the emotions they are feeling on the inside rather than anything personal to you. And for me this changed everything. 

That's not to say my first thought when someone cuts me up isn't to get out and scream how dare they. It is. But then I look deeper. If someone is trying to cut everyone up and shaking his first then he is obviously not in the best space in his life. It's not personal to me. It's about him and what he's going through and instead of feeling anger I feel gratitude and thank God that for today i have serenity.

Next time you are angry or needing to forgive try looking a little bit deeper at the situation. Try to see the pain that caused the person to act the way they did, rather than just the action themselves. 

'holding onto resentments is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die'. 

David Gibbs

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