Too many relationships are torn apart by angry words, hurt feelings, or foolish pride. The ongoing conflict results in bitterness and being separated from the people that matter the most to you.
The intensity of your hurt or anger towards another is a measure of the depth of the feeling you have for this person. When your feelings are this powerful, you must realize that you do care. This is an important relationship to you. It is so important that you have to do something about your feelings.
The key to resolving your feelings and mending the relationship is forgiveness. I can tell you how to use this key, but you must have the courage to use it.
The essence of pride is the belief that you are right and others are wrong. The other person’s words or actions have hurt you. They have wronged you. You’ve gotten revenge by withdrawing your love or presence from them. Do you see that your revenge is hurting you as much as it may be hurting the other person?
Decide that it’s time for you to let go of your anger and your hurt and forgive the other person who has treated you badly. Forgiveness is a very powerful virtue. Instead of following the old law of an eye for an eye, forgiveness challenges evil with good. Forgiveness has the ability to transform the offensive behavior of the other person by the grace of love.
Forgiveness becomes possible when you can put yourself in the other person’s place. Try to see things from their point of view. No matter how hurtful their words or actions seemed, they were doing the best they could with the awareness they had at the time. The other person is no different from you – they believed they were just as right as you believe you were.
Try to let go of the issues of right and wrong. If you believe you were right you really don’t need to have the other person agree with you. Let it be enough that you know you were right. Ten years from now it probably won’t matter anyway.
Here’s another thought, look back on your own life. Identify those times when you needed to be forgiven for your own mistakes. I’m sure you were grateful and felt loved when someone had the courage and compassion to overlook your bad behavior.
Forgiveness has the power to free you from the prison of your aloneness. It will free you from carrying the burdens of your past bitterness. It will allow you to move beyond your pride so your energy can be available for a new and kinder relationship in the present.
Your choice now is whether or not to forgive the person you believe has behaved badly towards you. If you reach out to the other person, I hope he/she will respond in kind. Even if they don’t, through forgiveness you will have unburdened yourself of the toxic effects of you feelings of hurt and anger. You will have let go of the past and opened your heart to loving relationships in the present.
As you find the courage to forgive, you will come to understand that forgiveness is truly a gift you give yourself.
Shirley Vandersteen, Ph. D., R. Psych.