On loosening the grip of past hurts
Once we make the decision to set aside, for the sake of experiment, the firmness of our beliefs that there is little we can do to overcome the determining factors from our past, we may begin to glimpse the illogic of having maintained that position in the first place. We may find ourselves asking the question: Why should I credit so much the crippling effects of the past when I could as well embrace a view that allows for me to make meaningful changes for the better in my life? Perhaps because your past attempts have failed? Maybe you have changed a lot since you first became convinced that your growth options were limited (an idea that began to develop when you were a child.) Perhaps you have acquired new skill sets along life’s journey that you may be able to apply in your attempt to free yourself from your largely self-imposed limitations. Maybe you have been unhappy so long by now (hit bottom) that you find yourself more willing to take a few calculated risks.
The reality is that while most people would consider themselves ready, or at least willing, to adopt this point of view, they are immediately hampered by not knowing exactly how to proceed. There are at least two avenues available to us that can help break the hold our past emotional wounds have over us. The twin culprits that undermine our present sense of contentment, serenity and satisfaction are insufficient appreciation of the good events from our past and an overemphasis on the bad ones. Developing an enhanced sense of gratitude applies to the former scenario, while fostering an attitude of forgiveness assuages the worst effects of the latter.
On some aspects of resentment
Resentment is generally defined as harboring ill will toward a person or group of persons as a result of perceived mistreatment or offense on their part. It differs from anger in that it has more of a quiet, seething quality and is usually unexpressed, as in a grudge. Those who struggle with resentment may experience frequent irrational angry outbursts or periods of depression, obsessive distressful daydreaming about the offending person or group and/or a distinct inability to move on with or feel contentment in their lives.
Resentment is as powerful and detrimental an addiction as drugs or alcohol. Its debilitating effects are two-pronged. On the one hand, it keeps us mired in a past struggle that is literally impossible to win. On the other, it severely limits our present range of happiness by locking us into a potent debilitating combination of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Those afflicted may be plagued night and day with thoughts of revenge, what they might have said differently, how they might have told the offending party off or what cutting retort they might have made. They may limit their activities to situations where they won’t encounter the offending individuals or any of those individuals’ friends or acquaintances. A preoccupying sense of sullen fury may prevent them from engaging in otherwise pleasurable activities, locking them into a dull, repetitive routine.
On why cultivating forgiveness is important
In fact, people and the relationships they establish cannot grow or sustain themselves without healthy doses of forgiveness. We make mistakes, other people make mistakes. How could we ever expect to recover from these mistakes without forgiveness? Relationships especially are laboratories for forgiveness; the longer you remain together, the more you love each other, the more lessons you have learned about the healing power of forgiveness.
Self-forgiveness is a very important part of maintaining our mental and physical well-being. How can we expect to forgive ourselves for the things we do when we are hesitant or unwilling to forgive others? I’m not condoning inappropriate, selfish or hurtful behavior, but when we make an honest mistake it comes as a relief to know we have the capacity for forgiving ourselves for it. Forgiveness is probably the single most important process that brings peace and harmony to our lives.
The thing I like most about topics such as this one is that they provide a real and practical laboratory for us to make our lives happier and more rewarding. There are no clubs to join, no meetings to attend, no fees to be paid, no medications to be taken. There is just you, your experience of life and a willingness on your part to be open to new learning experiences. You needn’t buy into anyone’s doctrine; just try on some no risk, no obligation moderate behavioral or attitudinal change in the comfort of your own home and judge the results for yourself. If dissatisfied, return the unused portion for a full refund; no salesman will call.