|Everyone deals with anger in their lifetime. We are challenged by it. We feel it. We contemplate it. We ignore it or deal with it.|
Many of us will never get that far. We will hold onto grudges, fear, anger, hate and loss because it is hard to forgive. It’s certainly not something learned in school. It’s personal.
We are in a world of anger, unleashed and ready to strike at anyone. Anger, hate and betrayal are all symptoms of emotional theft. They are held onto out of familiarity and self-protection. They are fed and clothed, and can become one with their owner.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Anne Frank, a 15-year-old Jewish girl murdered by the Nazis, found a way to forgive. Even as she faced doom she was able to walk this road less traveled.
Forgiveness, however, does not mean forgetting. It does not mean to ignore lies, betrayal or injustice. Acts of circumstance leave smaller scars than those purposefully inflicted and take far longer to heal.
Carrying around these emotions can shatter our health, and could very well be the anchor keeping so many Americans attached to anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications. We don’t let go of things, discuss them or release them without fear creeping in that we must also forget them.
We awaken each day with a fresh bucket of emotional resources. It is our attitude which fills – or empties – the bucket. For each piece of negativity we carry around there is an unconscious emotional tax we must pay. That price can weigh us down at work, with our children, with loved ones and with ourselves. It’s more contagious than the flu and far harder to get rid of.
We pay this tax to ourselves, to those around us and to the root of the problem itself. Much of our daily emotional resources are spent on people who don’t even know it. For those who are loved, this is a comforting thought. But for those carrying around negative emotions, that weight compounds the issue, feeding it with emotional resources we could be using for other things, people or ourselves.
Whether backstabbing friends, bitter exes, rapists or murderers, we owe them no more of ourselves than they have already taken. We save pennies at the grocery store, but spend buckets of change on emotions for those who may not deserve it. Especially those who can pull others under just by becoming a focus of emotion.
How one learns to forgive is a process that takes time. We do not just wake up one day and forgive a person for their trespasses. For an adult who was abused as a child or a woman raising three children alone without her cheating husband, there is no forgetting but there can be forgiving.
Letting go is not really about letting someone else off the hook. It is about giving yourself permission to pursue happiness again.