In life, most of us would have gone through some instances where we are treated with injustice. It could have happened in intimate relationships, office, financial transactions, etc. These instances would have hurt us badly and shaken our trust in another person. Some of us carry these hurt feelings for a long time because forgiving the person who caused this pain is very tough. Forgiving others is an age-old concept taught by all the saints across the world. It’s part of every religion and spiritual path. There are many stories related to forgiveness that we come across while reading Ramayana or Mahabharatha. In Hinduism, forgiveness is considered as a virtue.
Having said this, it’s not always easy to forgive others. It takes days or months or years or even a lifetime to forgive. And some of us can never forgive others for what they have done. It’s hard to forgive. Why did the saints repeatedly urge us to forgive? Why is forgiveness taught across the religions? Let’s understand forgiveness in depth.
What is forgiveness? Forgiveness means letting go of the anger, hatred and hurt feelings towards people who caused us pain and injury.
When a person is not willing to forgive, the person goes through the below issues.
1. Lack of forgiveness leads to stress, worry, anger, resentment, and revenge taking attitude. Over a period of time, these negative emotions will lead to various life-threatening diseases in life.
2. Peace of mind is lost.
3. The person is stuck in the past and unwilling to live in the present because of which joy of living and new opportunities are lost.
4. Personal relationships are impacted negatively due to the bitterness and pain carried in one’s heart.
5. Productivity in work is impacted negatively.
6. One goes through depression and simple joys of life like enjoying the food, sleeping well, laughing are forgotten.
7. Achieving goals becomes difficult because the person is left with little energies to work on his or her goals.
8. The quality of sleep goes down.
9. A person goes through constant tiredness in life.
When we understand the impacts of not forgiving, we see that forgiving others is a smart thing to do. Forgiving others is not a sign of weakness. It needs a tremendous amount of strength to forgive. Strong and smart people practice forgiveness because they understand that it’s not worth holding grudges and wasting time and energy. Below are some frequently asked questions related to forgiveness.
1. How do I know I have forgiven the other person completely? When you think of the whole scenario and the person, and you don’t feel anger or hatred or sadness in your heart, and you can stay neutral, that’s when it means that you have forgiven completely. Your own emotions tell you whether you have forgiven the other person completely or not.
2. So, I should forgive everyone and bear all the unfairness in the world silently? There are two types of forgiveness.
Inner forgiveness: This means forgiving the other person or situation in your heart where you don’t hold any anger or hatred against the person. Inner forgiveness should be given to everyone and, in all circumstances, for one’s own happiness and peace.
Outer forgiveness: This forgiveness is in the external world. For example, say someone committed a crime like eve-teasing a girl. The girl needs to forgive this person in her thoughts and emotions for her own peace. At the same time, she should also file a police complaint, and the person who eve teased her needs to be put in prison as per the law so that others don’t get impacted. Outer forgiveness is case to case basis, and actions should be taken as per the law.
Forgiveness does not mean you put up with the injustice happening in life. Forgiveness means you are willing to let go of the anger and hurt feelings caused due to the injustice done to you.
3. I can forgive others, but I cannot forgive myself for the mistakes I made in my life. The inability to forgive oneself is called guilt. Everyone makes mistakes, and mistakes are part of life. We need to learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat the mistake rather than feeling guilty because guilt is a negative emotion that can impact health, quality of life and relationships negatively. Guilt can lead to various types of addictions like alcohol, food, etc., and ignoring life’s situations. When you make a mistake, sincerely ask forgiveness from the other person and try not to repeat the mistake again in life.
4. I understand that I need to forgive, but I am not able to. How to forgive others? Yes, forgiving others is not easy. It needs time, patience, effort, and tools to be able to forgive. Some tools that help you forgive others are
1.Regular practice of Meditation – When you meditate, you get emotional and mental strength to forgive. Regular meditation makes it easy to forgive.
2. Making a conscious effort to forgive by repeating the forgiveness affirmation. Forgiveness affirmation is as below
“I forgive myself and all those who have caused me injury and pain. I release all the guilt and all the hurts now. I am filled with love. I am filled with peace.”
Initially, when you start saying this affirmation, you could be mechanically saying it because you don’t really feel like forgiving, but when you persist and repeat it every day, forgiveness becomes easier, and there comes a day when you have forgiven completely.
3.Practice gratitude in life for all the blessings given to you by the divine. When we practice gratitude, forgiveness becomes easier.
4. Below is a simple forgiveness practice you can follow every day.
Think of all the blessings in your life like your health, wealth, family members etc. Feel grateful to God for all these blessings. Think of the person who hurt you badly. Pray to God as – “Lord, please bless me with the inner strength to forgive this person. Please bless this person with good health, happiness, prosperity, harmonious relationships, peace. Thank You.”
5. How many days will it take me to forgive? It is in your hands. In the initial days of forgiveness practice, there might be inner resistance. As you practice regularly, it becomes easier and quicker to forgive.
We all go through situations where we are hurt by others, or we hurt others. Instead of going through negative emotions and negative thoughts like guilt and resentment for years, the smart thing would be to forgive, learn the lessons and move on. When we are rooted in our happiness and peace, new doors open in life, and there is no reason why we should be stuck with the past and suffer.
Its time to forgive and move on.