Holding On To Anger
As strange as it may seem, when we’ve been hurt or harmed by someone, there is an opportunity for growth and true benefit. We see that sometimes in family and other close relationships. There are people from your past who take up full residence in your head – and they don’t even pay rent! Family members are usually our greatest teachers.
If you dive deep into the waters of anger and resentment, there is no real enemy except you. Good and evil exist together all the time. They are just the other side of the same coin. We don’t need to conquer evil. We want to build up, not strike down. Forgiveness is the embodiment of an open heart.
We cannot control the actions of anyone but ourselves. We cannot expect other people to greet us with the same open heart and love we offer them. Expectations will always lead to unhappiness. – Derek O’Neill (Click to Tweet!)
The answer is within you, not the external world.
A Compassionate Perspective
There are times when someone does something that hurts us, but they don’t know or understand that they’ve done anything wrong. They may acknowledge what happened, but have an explanation that doesn’t match up with your truth. When we offer forgiveness in our heart, we acknowledge that no matter what the justification is in their mind, or their lack of awareness, that’s not what is important. It is the compassion for them and their own issues – and for ourselves – by not allowing it to affect how we feel about who we are.
Certain relationships in life are particularly complex. Often our family ties are jam-packed with issues that involve either our hearts remaining open or shutting down. We tend to cast the other person in the role of our enemy. In time, it is helpful to begin to see that as insensitive or unkind as their actions may have been, forgiveness can reconfirm who you are – what values you have and how you want to love and be loved. The emptiness you may feel can heal and create the space in your heart to fill with abundance, and moving you forward. None of this is possible if you are locked in anger and hate, unable to forgive.
Being Hurt By A Parent
Parent-child relationships often need the gift of forgiveness. If you have been hurt by a parent, whether a long time ago, on an on-going basis, or with a recent event, understanding their humanness and the way they were raised themselves is very helpful towards forgiveness. They received their tools – or lack of them – and perspective from whatever was available. Whether they have evolved beyond some of these issues is not something we can expect.
Forgiving our parents is accepting them for who they are. Forgiveness also expands our view of a hurtful parent and reminds us of the positive elements of our relationship to them. We can take what we have experienced with them and inform our own parenting, taking a different path. If we are angry at our own child, we need to look at the bigger picture and know that they are always changing. We also have to forgive ourselves if we feel we are at fault for something that is a problem with, or for, our kids. We cannot help them if we are busy punishing ourselves.
Forgiveness may not come right away. It is often a process. Feelings are always changing. The wish for revenge or retribution shifts if we allow the natural pendulum of life to swing away from those initial feelings. Forgiveness is non-reactive. It is contemplative and restores balance and peace. This is not to say you must feel this way right from the start. Knowing the value of forgiveness is the ability to pause, breathe deeply, and take time to think before you double down on anger and resentment. Once you can step into a forgiving mindset, a world of possibility opens. Though we may think of forgiveness as giving something up, it is really an opportunity to gain more than we could have ever imagined.
Forgiveness cannot truly happen without an open heart. Each supports and grows the other. Finding a daily practice that incorporates both will improve every part of your life.
Derek O’Neill, fondly referred to as the Celtic Sage, inspires and uplifts people from all walks of life, offering guidance to influential world leaders, businesses, celebrities, athletes and everyday people alike. Distilled from his life work in psychotherapy, a martial arts career and study with wise yogis and Indian and Tibetan masters, Derek translates ancient wisdom into modern day teachings to address the biggest challenges facing humanity today. For additional insights listen to his free radio archives or explore over 20 personal development books including Forgiveness, Addiction, Bullying, Love/Divorce, Grief, Mindfulness, Anxiety, Anger, Suicide, Stress and Depression.
Image courtesy of Albert Rafael.