Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

Self-esteem Series (9 of 13) “Forgiveness & Humility”

#6  The Practice of Forgiveness and the Pursuit of Humility

Most of the pain we experience in this life is of our own making.  Someone says something or does something and it hurts us.  We record it, store it way, and wait for the apologies.   And when apologies don’t come in a timely manner (or don’t come, period) – we look for PAYBACK!

This is how resentment develops.  I feel victimized and look to get even, plotting, obsessing, holding pain and malice in my heart.

“You hurt me and I want you to acknowledge it, to admit the horrible thing you have done, to feel the pain you made me feel.  I want you to hurt the way you hurt me!”

What I don’t understand is that harboring resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die – it doesn’t work.  All it does is make me sick and miserable.  Each time I recall the incident I feel the pain (humiliation, sorrow, shame, anger, etc.) as though it just now happened – not that it happened yesterday or last month or even two decades ago.

Feelings have no concept of time.  They are just as real and as intense now as they were at the time the incident happened.  Someone may victimize me once, but by harboring the resentment I victimize myself over and over. Each time I recall the incident, I feel the pain.  This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, intensifying the pain each time I recall the resentment.

If I hit myself with a belt on my back once; it’s going to smart.  The tenth time I hit myself; it’s going to hurt. The hundredth time I hit myself; the pain will be excruciating.  And so it is with the pain we inflict on our souls.

Without realizing it, we become enslaved, in bondage, to the resentment itself.  At times we may not even remember the names or the faces of those who created the resentment – but the pain; we remember the pain and long for payback.  We keep score, playing policeman looking for the scales of justice to be balanced.  The resentment festers, slowly growing into hate.

Who is this resentment hurting?  Not them.  Often, they’re not even aware they’ve caused any pain.

“I didn’t mean it that way!  You’re too sensitive!  Get over it!”

What’s worse than feeling pain is not having that pain acknowledged or having it dismissed.  Usually, others continue on with their lives oblivious to the injustice.  They go on about their day, eat meals, play with their kids, talk, laugh, and fall fast asleep never giving your injustice a second thought.

Since I’m the only one staring at the ceiling, mulling it over and over in my head, getting more and more frustrated, I guess it’s only hurting – me.

Imagine what it might be like to be free of this “squirrel cage” running in your head, to be free of the bondage of this lingering pain, to go about your day and focus on your life.  Imagine how liberating it would be.

To give someone so much power over you is tragic. To allow someone to make you miserable, control your thoughts, direct your life, instill malice in your heart, and define your reality is a crime.  So how do I stop this?  How do I give up resentment?  How do I let it go?

The answer is so simple and yet so difficult:  forgiveness.

“Wait a minute!  Forgive that son-of-a-…?  I want him to pay!”

Well, the graveyard is full of people still waiting for payback – people who lived miserable and died miserable, refusing to give up their pain.

Before you become unglued, understand what forgiveness is.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean I forget.  I don’t want to forget.  I want to learn from the experience.  If I forget I am doomed to make the same mistake again.  Remember: “a life lesson will be repeated until learned?”  If I choose to allow this person to reenter or remain in my life, I will make sure there are firm boundaries set to protect me from any further harm.  This person will need to earn my trust.  I will not allow anyone to abuse me.  I will not be guilty of self-abuse.

Forgiveness also does not mean they are no longer responsible for making reparations for the damage they’ve caused.  This is their burden to carry – not mine.  They have to live with themselves – not me.  The type of life they live is determined by the kind of person they are.

All forgiveness means is that I relinquish my right to get even.  I no longer care if you hurt the way you hurt me.  I refuse to live with malice, waiting for payback.  I’m no longer playing policeman looking to balance the scales.  I am no longer going to waist another moment of my life on what you did.  I am going to free myself of you and the pain you have caused me.  My life is too precious.

Practicing the Principle of Forgiveness is not easy.  We are raised with the belief that life should be fair, everyone should be afforded the same chance, everything should be balanced, tit-for-tat, and an eye for an eye.  But in reality, life isn’t always fair and if we lived by this principle it would be a world of the blind.

NOTE:Manager Development Services’ Blog is intended to educate and give “food for thought” that will enhance a person’s personal and professional lives.  You can find our Self-esteem Series in either our text or our e-learning course titled, “Becoming Master of Your Destiny.”


July 27, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Employee Coaching, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring, Personal Development | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. For me it is interesting whenever there is hurt to contemplate and get down to the bottom of why this hurts. For me there has to be a self-image in order to be hurt and so to see that the self image is just an idea allows me to let go of being that self-image trait which was hurt.

    Comment by Glenn R Smith | December 7, 2010 | Reply

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