“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” Charlotte Brontë
Charlette Brontë is quite the wise woman. Life is way too short not to forgive those who have hurt us. After all, harboring ill will against others only affects us. They continue to live their lives, perhaps totally unaware of our lingering feelings. So why allow this anger and pain to continue to fester within us?
Nelson Mandela said, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.” After what he experienced, I find it utterly amazing that he could see this truth. Yet, he’s absolutely correct. If he had chosen to hold onto his anger, he would continue to be jailed. It takes an enlightened spirit to see that clinging to hatred does no good… it only locks the prison doors, holding you hostage.
While most of us aren’t harboring animosity for imprisonment, my guess is that many of us continue to hold onto resentments that not only fail to serve us, but that also cause damage – physically, emotionally, or mentally – to our inner beings.
I’ve certainly had conflicts that I’ve struggled to release. At first, I wasn’t ready to let go of my anger. It was easier to play the victim and hope for sympathy from those who would listen to my story. But, every time I retold those tales, well, I just ingrained the negative emotions deeper and deeper into my core, making them more than they were and even harder to release. Finally, I decided that enough was enough, so I took a step back and looked at the damage I was doing. Holding tight only caused me distress. And in order to heal, I had to forgive, let go and move on.
But here’s the awesome part – it feels amazing to release those wounding emotions. Doing so lightens your spirit, gives you peace, and allows you to feel compassion, not only for others, but also for yourself.
Which reminds me – while you in the process of forgiving – don’t leave out an important person – yourself. I certainly own my fair share of actions that I would like to erase, and I guess that you may as well. But here’s the deal. Like everyone else, we are only human – perfectly imperfect – trying to do the best that we can with the tools that we have. Yet, in order to grow and learn from these situations, we have to stop beating ourselves up for past mistakes, let go of them, and then do better. That’s our job in Earth School. We have experiences, reflect, and then mature from these events.
Maybe you’re ready to release some hurtful feelings. This may take time, but if we are able let go and forgive, then we can walk out of the cells that we’ve created and try again, judge less and love more. It is incredibly liberating. And here’s there best thing about it – we hold the key – no one else can free us but ourselves.