“Remembering a wrong is like carrying a burden on the mind.” ~Buddha
It was a beautiful spring morning when I was terminated from my job. Before it happened, there were rumors, but I refused to believe that something like that could actually happen to me. I felt betrayed by the manner in which the termination occurred.
Without any substantiation, my company suggested that my ethics were compromised and I embezzled from the company funds. Soon thereafter I learned that the sole motive for the company was to replace me and my assistant with part-time employees to avoid paying full-time employee wages and benefits.
In reality, I worked hard, and often went out of my way for the benefit of the company. And yet, I got laid off.
At first I was shocked in disbelief, with anger and resentment following close behind. I even contacted a couple of attorneys to see if I may have a case. As time went on, I actually realized that losing this job was probably the best thing for me. I moved on.
Or so I thought…
When there is suppressed anger and resentment, we don’t really move on at all. We have a way of pushing away unpleasant emotions. We push away anger and resentments.
But these emotions get stored and accumulate in our subconscious. And while consciously we remain unaware of the damage they cause, they reveal themselves in our physical and emotional health. So there I was, going on with my life not realizing that on a deeper level, I was still holding on to the past.
My suppressed anger ended up rearing its ugly head in both my personal and professional lives. It affected the way I interacted with people around me and reflected in my health. I got diagnosed with depression.
Disbelieving that something was actually wrong with me, I was caught off guard at first. But inevitably, I had to face the truth. I had to become a good observer of myself and my emotions.
I had to teach myself the difference between “thinking” that I was well and actually “being” well. Gradually, I learned. Gradually, I dug deep enough to see the truth. And the day that I honestly saw my anger and pain was the day that I took my first step toward forgiveness—and freedom.
When Mahatma Gandhi was dying, he raised his hands up from his bullet wound and gestured a sign of forgiveness to his assassin. This drastic example illustrates that Mahatma Gandhi knew that forgiveness came from sacrifice and love.
Over a year after I got laid off, I felt compelled to write an email to the person responsible for letting me go. I told him that I was OK and that I harbored no hard feelings. I also thanked him for sending me on the journey of self-discovery.
Today, I am still learning and observing. I am not angry or in pain anymore. I build on what I’ve learned, expanding my forgiveness far beyond the confines of my personal life. Because when it works within myself, I know that it must work for the rest of the universe.
By learning to offer forgiveness, I learned about peace. If you’ve been holding onto resentments in your life, create peace for yourself:
1. Forgive personally.
Make an inventory of people in your personal life toward whom you may be experiencing negative emotions. These people may be members of your own family, your friends, or colleagues. Forgiveness on the personal level opens up communication and opens the path to rebuild relationships.
Certainly, personal forgiveness can also be expressed toward ourselves. It is possible to hold a grudge with yourself for the bad choices that you’ve made in the past, or for harming others in some way. This forgiveness offers a huge amount of emotional release to everyone involved.
2. Forgive spiritually.
In order to know peace, we must recognize that we are all connected. We must establish common ground by communicating and trying to understand one another. We are all made of the same love—and a big part of love is forgiveness. It’s what allows us to liberate our hearts from pain.
3. Forgive socially.
To forgive socially is to forgive on a universal scale. We must look beyond our homes, beyond our land, and beyond our culture. We must forgive those who we can’t see. Let’s find it in ourselves to offer forgiveness to distant lands, to people in other countries, and in different cultures.
This planet has seen enough hatred and discontent. Hatred leads to more hatred, and this world may not know true peace until forgiveness leads us toward mutual understanding and acceptance. Make a stand today not to allow any more negative energy spread into the world.
When we forgive someone, we are healing ourselves within. We don’t necessarily have to love, or even like someone in order to forgive them. The forgiveness can be offered internally, with lasting positive and healing consequences for our own lives.
Release your negative emotions. Fill your heart with compassion and love. Begin by forgiving a single deed or a single person today. Build on that to encompass the world. You will notice a wonderful transformation in your life.
Photo by Jayel Aherem