“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” ~Norman Cousins
Cousins used his unending optimism and love of comedy to hold back life-threatening illnesses for decades. He received a double diagnosis of collagen disease and ankylosing spondlytis. Both are painful and crippling diseases. He watched episodes of Candid Camera, comedy television, and films and claimed that he would have 2-3 pain free hours after each laugh fest.
Norman Cousins survived many years past what his doctors had given him to live. He lived 10 years after his first heart attack, 26 years after his collagen disease diagnosis, and 36 years after being diagnosed with heart disease.
When we think of healing these days, most people incorporate some sort of holistic and natural modalities. Things like vitamins and supplements and diet come to mind. Even more recently, medical and mental health practitioners have started to encourage meditation as a way to lower blood pressure and give solace to their patients.
We hear now and again that forgiveness is a way to peace and recovery. But we don’t hear too much about a path toward that end. In preparation for writing on the subject, I gave contemplation to why we don’t talk about it more.
Forgiveness is a very difficult characteristic to master. We can say that we forgive someone, but truthfully, if the event or action that caused the chasm to begin with still holds heat for you, then you haven’t forgiven. If you’re still angry with someone over something, then you haven’t forgiven them. Agreeing to tolerate a person is not the same as forgiving them. And if you find yourself waiting for the next time the perpetrator commits another offense against you so that you have a reason to pounce, then you certainly have not forgiven.
It’s always safe to start contemplation by accepting responsibility for yourself first.
If you would like to be forgiven for your shortcomings, wouldn’t logic follow that you would also need to forgive others as well? I certainly hope that I can be forgiven for my many trespasses, known or unknown to me. How can we ask for what we are unwilling to give? Right out of the gate, that is clearly hypocrisy.
Faking forgiveness is pale and superficial. Its faint, insipid smile might get you through a bit, but the unforgiving black boil stains the soul, wreaks havoc on relationships, and systematically wrecks health, both mental and physical. It’s just not worth it to hang on to those old ugly thoughts. The event is over. It’s the thoughts we tend to hang on to.
So what are we to do? Do something!! Don’t let it eat away at your life. Do not victimize yourself with an unforgiving attitude. You are only hurting yourself.
It takes work and diligence to be a person who looks within before pointing the finger outward.
There are things that we can do to move ourselves toward forgiveness.
If you have past hurts and trauma that cause a certain behavior to appear, then so do others. Be compassionate as to what the other person might have been through.
No one has to be a punching bag. It’s fine to remove one’s self from a toxic situation. But then forgiveness should take over for anger, judgment, and fear.
It is incumbent upon each of us to find the way to free the heart from the pain of judgment and anger.