Resentment and Forgiveness

Hopefully, you’ve all heard about the wisdom and value of forgiveness as healing for yourself; that you don’t do it primarily for the other person.  What that means, in case you haven’t heard, is that, when you forgive someone for a wrong they committed, there is an emotional benefit for you in the bargain.  What comes is a sense of release and freedom from the negative feelings and resentment related to the hurtful or damaging event.  There is an AA saying that, “Having a resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  The idea is that the other person is probably only rarely aware of our resentment to them about the transgression, but that we carry the poison around with us all the time.  Maybe forgiveness isn’t the right word.  What we’re really looking for is detachment, letting go, moving on.

How do we do that?  AA recommends praying for someone you have a resentment against.  The cool thing about that is that you don’t have to be sincere or even mean it when you do the praying.  Just say the words and, as you do it over time, it changes into something you believe and the relief comes.

When you’re working on forgiving parents or older family members for abuse or hurt, it often helps to look back at the way they were raised, the circumstances of their upbringing, what they went through.  That may help us to change our perspective and give us some clues as to how they could have done what they did.  It also helps us realize that they had their own issues and probably weren’t very emotionally healthy people, themselves.

All I’m saying is that, basically, when you forgive (or detach from) others who have hurt you, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.  Try it!

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