The Joy of Forgiving

Elon Musk is one of favorite tech entrepreneurs of all times and over the recent years, we have grown up adoring him. There is one incident that I can recall of was when he faced a flurry of abuses and rants from Johnny Depp, for courting Amber Heard even while she was married to Depp. So much so that Elon retorted by challenging Depp to a duel.

Of the few things that hurt the most, being wronged leaves the deepest scars. Knowingly, unknowingly, people do wrong us many times. A friend breaks your trust, a child hides something significant from parents, a spouse betrays in marriage or a colleague lets you down. It’s like a huge Tsunami that hits you in the face. You cannot fathom what’s happening. It takes some time for the initial shock to settle down and once you’ve internalized the pain, you are left with the onus to forgive and move on or to nurse the wound forever. Most people decide to tread the path of forgiveness for it salvages relationships that you cherish so much. Many times you don’t have the option to keep grudges, the damage has already been done and you must now act to save whatever is remaining. But deciding to forgive is one thing and actually forgiving is a totally different ballgame. The wronged person finds it difficult to forgive because, believe me, a sense of being the victim is a nice feeling to experience because it makes you feel falsely superior. Many people find it easy to slip into retaliation mode, at times aggravating the situation. Surely, an for an eye makes the whole world blind.

What forgiveness isn’t

  • For one, the person who has been wronged feels forgiveness is a sign of further weakness, after having gone through all the heartache. It has got more to do with his ego than the fact of the matter.
  • Many people assume forgiveness as the complete closure of the matter (which it isn’t) and hence hold on to the grudge for long.
  • Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting or letting go of the wrongdoing. It is not even that everything is going to be just as it were before.
  • It isn’t immediate, demanded and received and never ever forced.
  • And most importantly, forgiveness is never about the person whom we are forgiving.

What forgiveness is

  • It is a gesture that we are willing to put behind what has happened and move on without leaving behind anymore wake of pain.
  • It is a personal act of letting go so that the heart doesn’t weigh heavy in its own weight. You need not even tell the person that you have forgiven him/her.
  • Committing a wrong act is the other person’s way, forgiving is all your choice.
  • Forgiveness is to make a new clean start all over again with yourself, and may not presuppose with the person who has wronged you. People assume that just because someone has forgiven, means that they have completely forgotten. Just imagine what Dr. Nelson Mandela would have gone through, spending the most valuable 27 years of his life behind bars. He could have turned out to avenge his perpetrators, but he chose forgiveness over revenge and rose to become the beacon of freedom and democracy in the fight against white supremacy in South Africa.

Why forgiveness doesn’t come easy

For starters, being wronged doesn’t come with warnings. It is like a whack on your face out of the blue and so you are appalled at first. It has all the trappings that come with angst- anger, denial, guilt, and pain. The wronged person goes through a zillion emotions, from feeling vulnerable, guilty about being gullible, for trusting, and for attracting pity from others. No one wants to live with such unpleasant thoughts that bother you all the time and make you feel weak. On the contrary, holding on to the wound leaves you bleeding for long, holding the victim’s card and attracting sympathy which could be a good balm for some time but not for long. At times, people do not even think about forgiving for the simple reason that the other person did not ask for forgiveness. One must bear in mind that forgiveness can neither be demanded nor given into, it is a choice the person who is wronged makes.

How forgiving helps

  • It is a mark of your own maturity, that you value a person and your relationship more than some act of wrong doing, if you can do so.
  • It allows you to be free of the weight of being a victim that bogs you day and night and never allows you to feel free and light.
  • Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have forgotten what went wrong, it’s just that you will not let that act define your life henceforth.
  • Forgiving someone also allows you to freely trust others on your own judgment. Else you would end up being suspicious of making friends and entering into warm relationships.
  • Holding on to grudges and pain of being wronged leads to several psychological and physiological disturbances. One could find it difficult to sleep, eat well or even socialize. Losing confidence is another aspect of not forgiving someone because the person feels scared of being wronged again. Pent-up anger finds way through a weak immune system, high blood pressure, and affects the heart due to a spike in stress hormones. But by a simple act of forgiving, you make a conscious choice to be happy and positive all over again.
  • Forgiving makes you appear large-hearted, not to others but to yourself. It takes courage to let go of the hurt and the pain caused due to being wronged and only the strong-hearted can forgive wholeheartedly, especially even when forgiveness has not been asked by the perpetrator.

Of the many virtues that define a good human being, compassion and forgiveness would rank very high in the hierarchy. Understanding that human beings can be flawed and can go wrong sometimes, that people must be given a chance to improve and repent for wrongdoings and moving ahead without carrying hurt along, determines that one has matured.

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