Archive March 2017 XVIII, No. 3

Cutting Remarks: Forgiveness: Don't Leave Home Without It

Carrying around old hurts robs us of happiness, joy and energy.

John Kelly, IV

John Kelly, IV, MD


On the subject of forgivenesss, Nelson Mandela put it best: Resentment, he said, is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. We only hurt ourselves when we wish ill on those who've trespassed against us. We will not be punished for our anger — we'll be punished by our anger.

Many of us are too proud to forgive, believing we will be portrayed as weak. Nothing is further from the truth. It takes great strength and character to forgive. And the sooner we forgive, the sooner we will experience peace. To forgive someone who has hurt you doesn't mean you're condoning a particular behavior or turning the other cheek. You're simply letting go of the pain.

When we forgive others, we are concomitantly healing ourselves. When we accept others as they are — imperfect, flawed humans doing the best they can — we can begin to look at ourselves with more compassion. Indeed, when we can begin to see others with loving and forgiving eyes, our gaze upon ourselves will be more kind.

Some believe that only when their offender is sorry can forgiveness ensue. Not true. Don't delude yourself into thinking there will be a perfect time to forgive. There is no time like the present to free ourselves of hurt.

One reason we find it difficult to forgive is the presence of old emotional traumas, especially those that arose from childhood. My father, good man that he was, levied so much criticism against me during my teenage years that it's easy to understand why I used to be exquisitely sensitive to any critical remarks.

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