The opposite of forgiveness is holding a grudge against someone. When we do this, we hold on to the anger or pain of what the other person did and we hold it against them. We carry around all this pain and anger thinking we’re hurting the other person with it. But of course, this is not the case. The only one affected is the one carrying around the pain and anger. The other person doesn’t care at all. Why do we do this to ourselves?
As humans, we are taught to use emotional pain as a weapon. We use it to both protect and defend ourselves depending on the situation. When we hold onto pain and anger directed at somebody else it becomes a weapon to use against them. When we get hurt and we close off, the emotional pain becomes a defence mechanism. It’s how we protect ourselves.
Nobody likes to feel pain and trauma. We’d rather not have those experiences at all. It’s not the experience itself that’s the problem. All experience, from a spiritual perspective, is neutral. So the problem is not the experience it’s what we do with the pain associated with the experience that can become the problem. If we allowed the emotion to flow through after a painful event, eventually it would be released, the pain would subside, and we’d feel better. But we don’t do this, we tend to want to bury emotions that are overwhelming either because they feel out of control or because we don’t know what to do with them. So, we hold onto the pain and use it to defend ourselves from future attacks instead.
These strategies that we get taught which are meant to help us, actually do us a disservice. They keep us stuck in these emotional patterns and ways of being. We get bogged down in the energy of old painful experiences. We bog ourselves down to protect ourselves, but we really only hurt ourselves more. As we hold onto things, we begin to respond from that wounded place. We begin to act as victims. We don’t allow ourselves to have certain experiences anymore because we are afraid of the emotional trauma that might come with the experience.
Forgiveness removes the emotional fortress we build up around ourselves. That’s a scary prospect if we’ve been carrying the same pain with us for many years. It can feel very vulnerable to forgive and allow ourselves to be free from the things we carry around.
The process starts from recognizing that removing the emotional walls doesn’t mean we’re opening ourselves up to more pain. It just means recognizing that the emotional fortress is hurting us more than any new pain could or would. It comes down to asking the question, how is this pain I’m holding on to helping me? If your answer is that it’s keeping you safe, look again. More than likely, it’s keeping you stuck and hurt.
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