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Forgiveness Isn’t Weakness – Don’t Let Anger Hold You Back and Weigh You Down

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” ~Gandhi

For many years forgiveness was not in my mind, let alone my vocabulary. I was taught to believe that forgiveness was a sign of weakness, and I certainly did not forgive anyone who hurt me.

In the past, I have engaged in acts of revenge, which I thought was the right thing to do at those times. I was wrong.

One event that springs to my mind was when I was the target of a cruel prank. A group of guys had taunted a young man I knew, telling him that he was “whipped” by his girlfriend, who lived with him. To prove this wasn’t true and that he could “get anyone he wanted,” he pretended to like me and proceeded to call, text, and show an interest in me.

I didn’t know that he had a girlfriend, and I liked him, so I went along with this, unaware of the game. I soon found out what was going on. So, what did I do? I released all hell and vengeance.

I was hurt and embarrassed on so many levels to be the butt of a cruel joke. I felt like everyone was laughing at me behind my back. In retaliation, I contacted his girlfriend, went to their house, and showed her all the messages. We even got him to message me back while I was with her. We then waited for him to come home as we both sat there.

She had thrown all his stuff outside and torn his clothes. She cut his guitar strings in front of him and kicked him out. Did I feel satisfied? I thought I did, but a few days later I felt so guilty. This guy was now homeless, the girl heartbroken, and I looked like a home wrecker. I  know I did the right thing in being honest; I just went about it the wrong way.

I have since learned the power of forgiving—both others and myself.

The most important situation where I have forgiven myself was something that happened when I was only thirteen years old. This situation haunted me for many years.

I told my dad I wanted him to die. I know that this happens between children and their parents; however, the difference here is that my dad killed himself that night.

A lot led me to telling my dad to die, that I hated him, and that he would never see my brother or me again. Nonetheless, I said something I regret and I know that he listened to that message.

How can you move forward from such an act? An act that was done in defending my mum and wanting to protect my loved ones.

I have had to learn to forgive myself.

My dad had already made up his mind up before I said what I said. He was mentally unwell and no longer wanted to live. Maybe my words tipped him over the edge. But for me to live, and not die with my dad, I had to forgive myself.

Forgiveness is one the best things you can learn to do for yourself. It can free you, eradicate anger over time, and leave you open to receiving wonderful things in your life.

In my life, I have been hurt, I have hurt others, and I have lost people along the way. I have done stupid things and had awful things done to me. However, I eventually realized that focusing on the past and holding onto anger was not serving me. The answer is and was forgiveness.

The only thing holding you back from forgiveness is fear. Fear of letting someone “off the hook,” fear of being hurt again in the future, fear that you may have to change, fear that you may be perceived by your peers as weak, and fear that you may become soft. These fears may seem rational, but they stop you from leading a loving, open life.

Forgiveness is an art form that takes practice. It’s not something you ever fully master, as life moves on and each passing moment brings new experiences and new ways we can be upset or hurt. Each situation is a chance to grow and become more awake to a better life.

I used to be so angry at the world, my family, and mostly, myself. I regret some of the things I’ve done in the past, but I know the best apology you can ever give is changed behavior, and that is exactly what I have done. I have changed how I treat others and how I respond when they hurt me.

With commitment to change and increased meditation, I am working on forgiveness constantly. Each time a memory comes up or I see something that upsets me from my past, I send it love. The way to a better life is through love. Through love, we can forgive.

I release my anger toward others, as it doesn’t assist me. Each time I feel a pang of jealousy, anger, or annoyance, I forgive myself and let it go. Forgiveness is an act of self-love.

When working on forgiveness and opening your heart, painful feelings and memories may come up. But the rewards of choosing to stay open and forgive far outweigh the negatives.

When we work on becoming open and eradicating all that blocks us, this opens us to love and possibility. When we hold in anger, we carry that situation or person with us and keep hurting ourselves. Why would you want to keep hurting yourself?

You’ll never move forward unless you let go.

When we choose not to forgive and hold in feelings of anger, jealously, and resentment, we remain in a negative state of being and living, and in turn attract more of the same situations into our lives.

But there is another way.

I will often laugh now when I trip up instead of getting angry. I don’t get mad at myself when I make a mistake, and I don’t get mad at other people as much anymore.

I’m learning to forgive the man who cuts me off when driving or beeps his horn at me. I don’t let the fact that someone lies to me or tries to cut me in a queue upset my inner balance.

It’s hard to do, and I struggle sometimes, but I keep practicing, because keeping it in and holding onto it simply doesn’t serve me.

When I slip up, I forgive myself and realize where I can do better next time. I don’t want negative emotions and memories inside me, so each time they come up I work on releasing and surrendering.

If we want to experience happiness, relief, and true well-being, we must practice forgiving.

When you feel anger or someone upsets you, be assertive but approach the situation from a higher place of love.

When I am reminded of a past hurt or see something that upsets me, I will face it, imagine it surrounded in white light, and breathe in and out, with the out breath releasing the negative feeling.

That does’t mean I forgive instantly; for some things, it comes in time. I give myself that time and work on it because I know forgiveness is an antidote for poisons that can corrupt the body, cause illness and disease, damage the soul, and pain the mind.

When you are ready you will learn the freedom in forgiveness. Forgiveness for yourself if you aren’t the weight you think you should be, forgiveness to the ex for hurting you, forgiveness for yourself for hurting them, forgiveness for the times you messed up, because you simply cannot take these things back.

Holding onto anger holds you back and weighs you down. Learn to forgive and feel as light as air. You’ll then be open to receiving all the goodness that’s available to you in life.

About Tanya Viala

Tanya Viala is the owner of www.tanyaviala.com and Mermaid Tales. Born and raised in Stoke on Trent, UK, she now resides in Kelowna, Canada.  She is a light worker here to help spread love and positivity, and also an aspiring author, blogger, and tattooist. She is constantly changing and with each change she shares her insights in the hope that she can elevate others on their journey.

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  • ShaunTheCHB

    Great article Tanya, I’m very sorry about the thing with your dad. That truly is very sad. It took a lot for you to put that, so I admire your courage for being able to write that here. I was someone who sought revenge on people for a long time.
    Throughout my twenties, I wanted to find all of the people who did me wrong in my youth (high school days etc.) and confront them, demand an apology and justice, so to speak. I wanted revenge. I found two of my perpetrators and made a discovery that rocked me, they had changed in every way and had moved on in their lives and become better people. I had spent nearly ten years of my life tracking them down for absolutely nothing. I am now in my thirties and I wasted so much time being angry and bitter when I could have made something good of my life. I could have made new friends, got a girlfriend, got married, had a family etc. Instead I wanted revenge and I tossed away a lot of good opportunities in life that I will never get back now. I have made my bed, now I have to lie in it. I agree with you strongly about not seeking revenge, because it will make no one happy at all and solve nothing. I try to warn people nowadays about not doing revenge and bitterness, lest they make the same mistakes I did.

  • katie

    lovely.

  • Nmg

    Great post! Choose love.

  • Siddharth Karunakaran

    Forgiveness is one “OF” the best things. Please correct typo. There may be more but this is the one I could spot with my limited time.
    This is a great article.

  • Pam Lame

    It must be said that forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget, it only means that you admit there is nothing you can do to change it, and you choose to let it go. If you truly let it go, there is no need for vengeance, but you don’t forget so you don’t allow it to happen again.

  • Tanya Viala

    That’s true. We mustn’t forget the lesson Pam

  • Tanya Viala

    We have the choice in any moment to change our life’s for the better Shaun. Thankyou so much for your honesty and feedback. Your words are very true. We must seek love not revenge

  • Ryan Cone

    Thank you so much Tonya for a great article. Just what I needed today! For 2-1/2 years now I have starting my day with very negative thoughts and emotions towards a friend of 20 years for whom I had a falling out with. I have been struggling to get past it, but with your story and and my working towards a more Buddhistie life style – Its getting better.
    I have three sayings which have resonated with me over the years and I have printed them and taped them to an area of my desk for frequent viewing. Authors include Abraham Lincoln, Dalai Lama, and Paulo Coelo. I will include your opening statement from Gandi along with the words;

    “Forgiveness is an antidote for poisons that can corrupt the body, cause illness and disease, damage the soul, and pain the mind.” – Tanya Viala –

    So well said.
    Thank you!

  • Tanya Viala

    I’m so glad I could assist and be a part of your journey Ryan. And thank you. To forgive is divine as they say…. it takes time and dedication, a commitment to a new way of life. Mantras and quotes always helps me too so I’m glad my words have helped in some way.

  • sian e lewis

    It is well worth remembering that when someone treats us badly, that it really does say more about them than it does about us.

  • Tanya Viala

    Yes I really does

  • Debra Holz

    fantastic article and all true. i know i must forgive my husband who for most of our 16 year marriage it turns out had a secret life involving nearly 200 prostitutes, supporting a 30 year old stripper/hooker/junkie in an apartment with OUR money and exposing me to a potentially deadly STD. That was bad enough, but after a very public scandal broke, I also discovered I was the butt of some malicious jokes between him and his many “girlfriends.” I left him as I should have, but I haven’t fully forgiven him. Oh yes, I’ve had many fantasies of revenge many of which I could successfully accomplish. But instead, I am working on forgiveness because I know I must. As the A Course In Miracles says on the first page (paraphrasing) “The curriculum is mandatory; how long it takes to complete it is your only choice.” One of the teachings of the Kabbalah is in Lesson 7. We must want The Light for all of us as much as we want it for ourself or none of us ascend.

  • Tanya Viala

    Thankyou for sharing. That is not your karma and I believe choosing forgiveness frees us in some part. I’m
    So very sorry that you were hurt in that way.

  • Pam Lame

    You said it so much better than I could, it’s the lesson that helps us grow and so often we get so wrapped up in the whole issue we don’t even think about what there is to learn from it. Good article and thank you, it made me pause to think and that always is a good thing. 🙂

  • Tanya Viala

    I’m so glad I helped a little Pam. I’m sending love, joy and peace to you.

  • Nina Noo

    Thank you Tanya for sharing this wisdom. I came to the same conclusion in the past, realising how blindly destructive it was to hold onto and focus my energy on retaliation. This revelation occurred to me during a loving compassion meditation. One that focuses first on – sending love to oneself – then someone dear to you – then someone you don’t know well – then strangers – then to the person you usually direct resentment too.

    In those moments, sending love to HIM, I finally perceived this person as he really is. Not some evil idiot etc. but a person doing the best he can with the awareness and tools presently available to him. And in those moments I not only forgave him, I wanted the best for him too. I had empathy and compassion.

    As Debra Holz mentions below. We cannot raise / grow if it’s only all about us as an individual. With all the ‘self work’ we are thankfully doing as individuals, evolution as a species cannot come about without true empathy and a wish to share the light with everyone. This is the foundation of many ancient teachings.

    A small shift in perception parted clouds and allowed the light to shine into my life, effecting everything & everyone around me.

  • RT

    Thank you so much Nina for sharing the meditation which I intend to use.

  • Tanya Viala

    Thank you so much Nina. A small shift in perception does massive changes collectively.

  • rt

    Tanya thank you for sharing your story of lessons to be learnt. I am separated and left a marriage of nearly 30 years because my husband believed his life and happiness were more important than mine. When I think of being there 100% for so many years and he can still stand up today and say “That’s was your my job and that’s how it goes”, it triggers the hurt and anger inside me. I feel so much loss in my life because I never got the support or life I wanted.
    But never did I think of revenge or being spiteful (as he had been to me) because that was not who I am. Never did I think of degrading him or treating him with no respect (as he did to me) because that was not who I am. But I decided I did not want to become someone I was not because of who he was and how he treated me and instead I chose to leave.
    And with a lot of healing and self help I learnt by leaving the marriage I became true to what mattered to me. My life,my happiness. Me. That I deserved so much better and that I was not prepared to have any more loss in my life.
    And no matter how hard it’s been trying to restart and rebuild my life at 56 and doing it alone,at least I have given myself the chance to be happy and have peace inside again. I took back my power (and energy) and made the choice to stopped giving it away to things,people or situations that did not matter to me. Congratulations on your achievements and personal growth. xo

  • Kara Earl

    ‘Why would you want to keep hurting yourself?’ This really resonated with me. I am my harshest critic which often occurs through anger at situations. I often take others criticisms and blame on board which then snowballs, I have even be criticised for doing this too! So I end up in a negative cycle of blame and inward anger. You are so right in asking the question as to why we would do this ourselves. It is a cycle of self-destruction and self-love added with forgiveness has to be the way forward. Thank you for sharing your story with the community.

  • Tanya Viala

    Thankyou for your feedback Kara. We are our harshest critic and must ask ourselves why and work on this. Learn to live in a place of love. Thankyou again

  • Tanya Viala

    So very true there is a lesson in everything

  • RevNagi

    Tanya, That is a beautiful post. Thank you.
    Several years ago my Mother passed from lymphoma. During the dying process, my 2 older brothers were, well, pretty much useless and I was pretty upset about this (but I held my tongue because that was not the bigger issue).
    I still haven’t confronted my brothers about this; that would not “solve” anything. But I have forgiven them and myself.
    So that’s good.

  • Nina Noo

    Hello, RevNagi, Sorry to hear about your mum, I can only imagine how emotionally & physical exhausting it was looking after a dying parent with no real sibling support. I think forgiving them is one issue.
    And speaking your truth is another.

    Im not suggesting accusations and blame, (“You didn’t…(help)… “etc..) just expressIng what you went through. (“I felt…(insert emotion)…” etc). This will give them the opportunity to have insight into your world without feeling under attack and getting defensive.

    Their lack of support / input was probably rooted in fear. We all deal with life differently, some run away from difficult situations, some are braver…

    If we don’t have open authentic & empathic dialogue with others how can we hope to understand each other / have the opportunity of developing a little insight, empathy and self reflection?
    Much love. N.

  • RevNagi

    Hi Nina. Excellent point! However, I did attempt that with my older brother and he responded with, “Never contact me again”. So, that went not-so-well. My oldest brother is a different story. A day or so before our mum passed, he left a note at her house simply saying, “Well, now we’ll have to grow up”. Granted at the time he was 48 years old. So…..
    I would love to talk it out with them, but I don’t have any realistic hopes of that happening.

  • Nina Noo

    I’d attach the actual meditation but have computer issues…Will try & remember once it’s fixed x

  • Nina Noo

    Well I suppose we can never force anyone to grow…Just give them the opportunity. Xxx

  • When we fall into the trap of anger, we imprison ourselves in a prison of suffering; we inadvertently add suffering to suffering both for ourself and for those around us, and even the perpetrator him/herself. Forgiveness is vital, but not conceptual forgiveness, not trying to accept what is beyond acceptance, for that is just cultivating a form of denial and avoidance. Forgiveness means embracing those parts of yourself that are in pain, it means learning to sit with your pain, your negative thoughts and traumatic memories, making a space around them so that they can heal. Healing needs space, and that space is consciousness and love in its pure form – the form we call mindfulness..
    Anger isn’t ‘wrong’, it isn’t bad, it simply points to a part of yourself that is in pain. The purpose of that pain is to get you to bring mindfulness to those emotions that hurt so they can heal. They can’t heal alone, they need you, the real YOU that is the True Self, or the Buddha within.
    I have worked with so many people in pain, suffering from anger and fear and I can say with confidence that when you learn to embrace pain and anger with mindfulness, when you learn how to meditate on your suffering (dukkha) it will always heal. Nothing is more powerful than love, and mindfulness meditation teaches you how to love yourself as the Buddha taught.

    The Boulder Center for Mindfulness Therapy

  • RevNagi

    Well said, dear lady. Well said.

  • MattScribes

    That’s so true. I have lived with the mantra “Always forgive but never forget” for a while, and it has done wonders for my mental serenity.

  • Tanya Viala

    Forgiveness is vital. Thankyou for readings and commenting

  • Tanya Viala

    Thankyou so much for commenting and reading my blog. Forgiveness releases us. I’m sorry about the loss of your mum.

  • RT

    Thanks so much Nina that’s very nice of you, if it is possible.

  • RevNagi

    Thank you Tanya. However, it is as I said from the start, “Good for her, bad for us”. She was released from the pain of the disease, the hard part is being left here without her to pick up the pieces. But she raised 3 strapping boys and I guess we’re doing OK.

  • Just this morning I was contemplating the fact that building a barrier of anger around our hearts feels as if we are protecting ourselves from future hurt, but in fact it is holding us back. Beautiful article on releasing and forgiving. Every day:)

  • nina

    Hi RT!

    Here it is:
    I’m now a yoga therapist, NLP practitioner & hypnotherapist (Nina Yogabubble on facebook) and re-wrote the meditation I’d come across as part of a Yoga Nidra visualization for my students.

    The practitioner is lying down on the back in the ‘Shivasana’ yoga posture… totally relaxed already.

    As an intro, try this: Lying comfortably, or sitting with a straight back if you prefer… spend some moments focusing on your natural breath, noticing your abdomen rising / expanding on the inward breath, falling / contracting on the outward breath….allowing any distracting thoughts to come and go again, without bringing your attention to them. Just following your breath…

    (after some moments)…

    Relax your body now, each part from the top of your head slowly through your face, right down to your toes, part
    by part…

    (Then)… Notice the earth, the ground underneath you, holding and supporting you. Now with each outward breath feel your
    body getting heavier, sinking into the floor. Breathing and sinking,
    heavier and heavier… (after some moments)…

    Feel the opposite, feel your body light, with each inward breath more and more weightless. Notice all the space surrounding you and allow yourself now to breathe into that space, breathing in – lightness, weightlessness, infinite space into your body. On the outward breath imagine breathing yourself out into that expansive space, beyond the
    limitations of your body, connecting with everything around you.

    The actual meditation:

    Focus on your heart center. Visualize
    your heart being filled with love. Warm energy, pure energy.

    This love energy has the qualities of
    friendliness, acceptance, support, forgiveness.

    Imagine this love energy filling your heart, imagine it as a pure white light. As you inhale, imagine your heart filling up totally with this love energy. And as you exhale, allow the love to leave your heart and flood through, surround, encircle your whole body. Feel embraced, supported in loving compassion. Feel warm, content, whole.

    Practice this for some moments. (Long pause).

    Now focus on someone close to you.
    Someone you have fond feelings for. A partner, a friend, a parent, a child.

    Focus on this person. Imagine them standing in front of you. Now as
    you inhale, fill your heart up with love. And as you exhale, send
    your love to this person. Let it flow out of your heart to them as a
    pure white light. Let it flow out of your heart to encircle them,
    surround them, support them, heal them. See this person relax on
    receiving your love. See their tensions fall away. See them smile.
    Practice this for some moments. (Long pause).

    Now think of someone you don’t know well, a stranger, maybe someone you pass on the street each day, someone who is disadvantaged or struggling in some way. It could be one person. It could be an entire continent of people. It could be the entire world.

    Know that your love is limitless, endless. It has no boundaries. Visualize this person or these people. As you inhale fill your heart with boundless love. And as you exhale image your love, leaving your heart and reaching out to them. See them supported in your love. Feel their relief, their gladness at receiving your love. Practice this for some moments. (Long pause).

    Now think of someone who has hurt you in the past. Someone you usually have a distaste for. Imagine this person standing before you.

    Now with each inhalation fill your heart with pure love. And as you
    exhale send this love out to that person. Send them this pure,
    supporting love. When distracted by the usual thoughts of this
    person, notice the thoughts, then allow them to pass, drifting like clouds across the sky. Focus only on the boundless love within you.

    See this person, this fellow human, and send out your pure, unconditional love with each exhalation. See your love flow to them as a pure white light. Encircling them. Supporting them. Forgiving them. Practice this for some moments. (Long pause).

    Now come back to your own heart center.
    Again visualize your heart being filled with love. This expansive
    pure energy.

    Again, inhale, filling your heart up totally with pure white light and love. Once again as you exhale, allow the love to leave your heart and flood through, surround, encircle your whole body. Feel embraced and supported in loving compassion. Feel warm, content, whole… free.

    Practice this for some moments. (Long pause).

    Before opening your eyes, take some time to notice how you feel.

  • Hlynn

    “When you feel anger or someone upsets you, be assertive but approach the situation from a higher place of love.” Can you explain this? How to react or feel when someone upsets you?

  • Santa-san

    I really really can’t grasp this concept. To me it just sounds like “Don’t bother fighting, just lie down and let life kick you around”

    I don’t like being kicked around 🙁

  • Jo Thieleman

    Pam, thank you for the way you explained forgiveness. There have been times that I could do nothing to change what was said or done to me, who said it or did it and/or why they even felt the need to say or do such a thing. This is a great way to view forgiveness!

  • Amber Summers

    Wow, wow & wow. This post has me in tears as I have been struggling with anger and forgiveness. Broken relationships and friendships have had me on the edge of breaking down but this article puts everything into perspective. To be slow to anger & quick to forgive. I am ready to free myself of the weighted down anger, resentment, guilt and hurt I’ve literally carried on my shoulders for some time now. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • Pamela Lame

    Hi Jo and you are most welcome, but at the risk of sounding cliche’, I read an article a few years ago from Oprah, she is very wise, and it helped me a lot in being able to forgive and move on from certain things. Forgiving is so extremely important for our spiritual growth, and by carrying around all that negativity, you are only stunted and it’s like an infection that cannot heal. Once you lance it, the poisons flow out and the healing begins. , and perhaps the most important and most difficult to forgive is ourselves…

  • Pam Lame

    Hi Debra, I have a story much like yours and something that helped me a lot is to realize that my not forgiving him didn’t bother him at all, he could care less, and carrying around all that anger towards someone that doesn’t even know or care seemed such a heavy load to carry, and the weight of it was all mine. So in a way by forgiving someone, we are not granting a pardon for their behavior, we are only deciding not to continue to allow them to cause us pain. It is useless baggage that only hurts our own spirit, and by letting it go, you are also freeing yourself to live and learn what the future has in store. The anger only keeps you from your own healing and serves no other purpose that I can think of. Just a thought…

  • Tanya Viala

    Thankyou for your feedback 🙂

  • Tanya Viala

    Thankyou for reading and sharing 🙂

  • Tanya Viala

    Not at all. For me forgiveness helped me to stay on my feet. It released me from feeling like I was being kicked around. Thankyou for sharing your perspective

  • Tanya Viala

    I can’t tell you how to feel but I can tell you that I am practicing pausing before I react. This saves me from acting in anger. When I try to pause I can see the bigger picture of the situation

  • Shanker

    Hi Tanya,
    I appreciate your courage to share your regrets. Not many of us could do it. Interesting questions and points through out the article.

    One thing that strikes me about our anger is that it usually has an inbuilt self-blame concept. That is the reason, however much the other person is at fault, we come around to feel guilty about our anger/revenge. We feel that ‘I’ve been foolish enough to have….’ As you say, we need to look for this reason(?) and forgive our-self first. Then only, the question of forgiving the perpetrator comes up.

    The question loving one’s perpetrator looks rather odd to me. We or at least I don’t love even people who have done good to me though I might be thankful to them. So, the question of loving even a stranger doesn’t arise. Then how can I love my …!

  • Tanya Viala

    Thank you for sharing your feedback and insight shanker. I unfortunately can’t see the end of your comment but I hope my article helped in some way 🙂

  • Shanker

    Hi Tanya,
    This is my last paragraph:
    The question of loving one’s perpetrator looks rather odd to me. We, or at least I don’t love even people who have done good to me though I might be thankful to them. So, the question of loving even a stranger doesn’t arise. Then how can I love my …!

  • Thomas

    This article has helped me no end. Thank you so much.

  • Tanya Viala

    I’m so happy to hear it helped you. Thanks for sharing.