A friend recently shared an idea that has had a profound impact on the way I view things. He said that holding a grudge or wanting revenge, is like holding on to a hot piece of coal. You're waiting for the perfect opportunity to throw the blistering piece of coal at the person that wronged you, but as you wait, you're actually the one getting burned.
This got me thinking a lot about the importance of forgiveness. When we harbor negative thoughts or hold grudges, we become angry, bitter, and unhappy people living in the past, rather than in the present.
When someone has wronged you, the wronging exists only as it is happening in the present. Once it's over, it only exists in your mind. This is not much different from a little kid being scared to go to sleep after seeing a horror movie. Even though the monster may have been killed at the end of the movie, memories of previous scenes still leave them haunted. All that ever comes of this is a bad night or several bad nights of sleep. When the morning comes and everything is as it was before the movie, the loss of sleep over something that does not exist seems so silly. Similarly when we finally learn to forgive, the days, weeks, months or years of pent up frustration, anger, or hurt seem equally foolish.
Withholding forgiveness is choosing to remain a victim of someone Else's wrong doings. It's like feeding yourself poison and expecting the wrong doer to die.
We cannot find peace and joy until we are willing to let go and forgive. If we view the world as a happy, fun place filled with wonderful people, that's what our lives will be made of. But if we choose to view life as a struggle, and the world a place where we are always led astray and wronged by others, our realities will be all but peaceful and happy.
Think of any ill feelings or resentment you may have for someone. What are those feelings doing other than fueling your anger or adding to your sadness?
At the end of the day we are ultimately responsible for our own happiness. We cannot let one person's unkind or unjust words or actions dictate the way we view the world, and we should learn to meet affliction with affection. Resentment, bitterness and negativity will only lead to more hurt and betrayal. Just as laughing and smiling can be contagious, so can negativity. So choose to laugh and smile, and let go!