By Rik Schnabel
Have you ever considered what really happens when you decide not to forgive the people who have crossed your path and have crossed swords with you? What is the ultimate price that you pay for not forgiving?
It is very simple to do an audit on non-forgiveness. Let me demonstrate. Think right now of someone that you have not or will not forgive for whatever reason and notice where you feel it in your body. Then begin to observe the elements of the feeling. Is the feeling in your body a good feeling? A better question might be, ‘Does the feeling make you feel healthier, more energised or does the feeling make you feel sick and less energised?’ When we consider non-forgiveness and its characteristics; its intensity, its weight, its temperature and its size, only then do we get a sense of the price we’re paying. Of course there is a greater price to be paid, though this may come much later.
There are no justified resentments – there is just pain
No matter how we may justify non-forgiveness, these resentments are causing us harm. Carrie Fisher once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Poison was a very interesting choice of metaphor. From years of training and coaching I have found that holding onto resentments creates illness. I became so convinced that resentments needed to be resolved in my clients with cancer, that it was the first thing I would do. Remarkably, their tumours, over a short time, sometimes within weeks, would shrink.
Resentment not only creates disharmony in the mind, but they are also the cause of limiting emotions such as anger, sadness, guilt, blame and fear, and that can’t be good. It is my professional view that the price of non-forgiveness over an extended duration of time literally eats at the body and possibly creates if not at least stimulates a multitude of illness.
It is my view that limiting emotions create ill effects in the body that may well bring about illnesses such as heart attacks, organ failure, and blood clots, among many of the diseases that congest our hospital systems around the globe. I would not be surprised if, years from now, we discovered that cancer cases diminished as the practice of forgiveness became a ritual rather than a habit. Of course diet and lifestyle are also contributors to our health or lack of it, though much of those choices are determined by our thinking – just like we can make a decision right now to resolve our resentments. First, let us consider one emotion – anger.
Anger is such a debilitating and unsettling emotion that held for long durations of time can be felt as a physical pain in the chest. What may start with muscle tension, grinding of teeth, high blood pressure, can degenerate to peptic ulcers and later reduce the heart’s ability to properly pump blood and cause heart attacks. One of the major effects anger has on the body is the release of chemicals and hormones, primarily the adrenaline and non-adrenaline. The adrenaline hormones act on the organs that reach the sympathetic nervous system which stimulate the heart, dilating the coronary vessels, constricting blood vessels in the intestines and shutting off digestion.
Of course while the body is getting a chemical belting from the anger, what is happening to the mind? Suppressed anger can also have major psychological effects, causing depression, anxiety, insomnia, eating disorders and also the overtly self-inflicted issues such as alcoholism, drug use and other self-destructive behaviours. No matter how you look at it, if you’re choosing to be angry at someone or something, you’re the one carrying the pain, there are no justified resentments. Non-forgiveness outcomes such as anger are a choice not a sentence and usually not only inflame organs, but also dramas. Arguing about who squeezed the toothpaste from the wrong end is obviously an outburst fuelled by something other than bathroom etiquette.
How do you release resentments and forgive?
I’m not asking you to condone bad behaviour, though to be specific, I’m asking you to release the pain of the event by forgiving the person, as only then can you do anything about changing the behaviour. The process of forgiveness is a process of ‘forgetness’, that is, you must be able to forget the event, in order to truly forgive. Think of an event where someone forgave you, yet brought up the event again in an argument years later. This is not really forgiveness. In order to forgive you must forget. I call it ‘accept, detach and decide’.
Accept, detach and decide
Rather than simply put your head in the sand and deny the event ever occurred, you must first make peace with it.
The first step to forgiveness is to accept the situation and moreover, accept responsibility for your feelings, rather than blaming the other person or situation. This might take some understanding on your part, though this is a vital step. If you truly cannot accept the situation and the other person(s), you cannot move to the second step.
The second step is to learn to detach from the inflamed or disruptive, limiting emotions. Sure, letting go of limiting emotions can sometimes be a challenge, though it all starts with a decision to do so. I usually prefer an NLP (neuro linguistic programming) technique where you have an individual imagine themselves floating back to the event and reframing it by looking for the lesson and letting go of the emotion – it’s very powerful. What you’re looking to do here is to make peace with the event. To think about what holding on to resentments may be costing you will certainly provide a reason to release negative attachments.
The third and final step is to decide upon how you would like to feel about the other person and the event, instead of what you previously felt. Start to see in your mind’s eye what you would like to see instead. What would be a productive or even healthy way to envision forward and feel the wisdom of doing so? Sometimes it helps to imagine your being a saint or a deity and ask yourself how they would they hold the event in their minds.
Forgiveness is healthy; in fact, imagine what our world would look and sound like if the whole world and everyone in it decided to let bygones be bygones?
Rik Schnabel is Australia’s #1 UnTrainer and is an accredited NLP trainer and author of Life Beyond Limits: Infinity Belief.
03 8669 1106
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