These emotions, if not dealt with, can lead to a host of other challenges such as defensiveness and blaming, anxiety, and depression –and let’s not forget the physical problems such as exhaustion, headaches, and heart problems. Refusing to forgive others traps you in a horrible cycle of rumination (constantly rehearsing the painful situation or, in your mind (or literally!!), gazing at the face of the one who hurt you) and reliving the painful emotions that you initially felt.
But let’s be real, it’s hard sometimes to forgive those that hurt you. However, in the back of our minds we hear “if I could just let him/her go, I’d be okay” or “if I could just get past this one area, I could move on with my life!” Right? It’s hard, but you know that it’s true. I love the Toyota commercial where the “professor” tells his class about all of the wonderful things that this particular car can do and then asks, “Why wouldn’t cha??” I’d like to pose the same question to you: If you know that letting this person go or moving past this “situation” will give you peace and help you to move forward with your life……. Why wouldn’t cha?
Now, I know what you’re saying: “I will never forget “X”. . . I’m not going to forgive “X” and let “X” off of the hook!” Something like that, huh?? Yeah? Let me help you with that…
Guess what? You are on the hook, too! Yes, you! That person is not on that hook alone. Steven Hayes provided a great metaphorical illustration about unforgiveness. He said that when you withhold forgiveness from someone, it is like being on the end of a hook. However, right beside you on the hook are all of the people that you choose not to forgive.
When you withhold forgiveness from someone,
it is like being on the end of a hook.
The hook that is attached to your heart and mind hurts—a lot! Doesn’t it? It brings pain every time you move and you take this pain wherever you go whether it be relationships, the next job, or the next season. I will go a step further and say that not only are you and your “issue” on the hook, your loved one’s (children, friends) are there along side you. Why? Because often the pain that you feel, they feel. Additionally, the anger that continues to burn within you are often projected onto them. The mistrust that you have may also extend to those whom you love the most.
So, imagine. . .
Are you willing to release them so that you can be free?
Take away: Forgiveness releases you from the hook that is causing your pain and jumpstarts your process of healing.