It is widely attributed to the Buddha and even though he never said it I bet if he were around today he’d wish he had and would probably be claiming it to be his on Twitter.
It has been something that I have talked about recently whilst working with a client who is harboring a great deal of anger, resentment and hostility toward another person.
If I told you the story behind the anger and hostility I’m fairly sure you’d nod your head in agreement and say something like, “Yeh I’d be pretty damn pissed about that too. Good for her!”
Bluntly put, her reaction is perfectly normal and in many respects even appropriate, but it’s still not useful.
It isn’t solving anything. It isn’t showing the other person ‘what for’ because it’s doubtful he even knows about it. It isn’t even making her feel better about herself by having the occasional vent.
The only person who is suffering is my client.
There are ways to alleviate this suffering, but the short-term pain is so intense that it’s sometimes difficult to implement them.
How Do We Let Go?
Most people when I suggest they forgive somebody who has wronged them are taken aback. After all they were the person who was wronged so why on earth should they forgive them?
And the reason stems from the fake Buddha quote, because our anger only harms ourselves.
Like stress, chronic anger, resentment and even hatred screw with our well-being. They remove our peace of mind, make us more susceptible to disease, can mess with our sleep and ultimately decrease our overall happiness levels.
In other words, we’re allowing the person concerned to carry on exerting power over us sometimes years, even decades, after the original event.
And to compound the issue they rarely even know it.
The starting point with this is to recognize by forgiving you’re not condoning, you’re not giving them permission to act in a similar manner to others and you’re not being weak, in fact just the opposite, you’re showing amazing strength.
What you’re really saying is, “You no longer control my emotions, my feelings and my life”
Put Pen To Paper
Probably the best way I know of doing this is to write to the person and forgive them.
Easy to say, but incredibly difficult for many people I realize.
But ironically and annoyingly, the more resistance there is to do this, the more need there is to do it.
The letter doesn’t even have to be mailed and it doesn’t even matter if the person is dead or alive, it is the sheer act of putting pen to paper that’s important and can be so cathartic for many people.
Another option is to use the metta bhavana meditation and send the person lovingkindness.
This can create all sorts of resistance too because the last thing we feel toward the other person is love.
But that doesn’t matter because with this meditation we’re merely accepting that we all have our difficulties in life, we all want to be happy and we all find it difficult to avoid suffering.
We can send somebody love without being in love with them. I have sent all sorts of bizarre people love doing this meditation including at one stage George Bush (please don’t tell anybody).
At that particular time I didn’t have anybody I was particularly pissed at in my life, so for the stage of the meditation that calls for us to send love to somebody we have difficulties with he popped into my head.
I’ve sent love to the removal company that ripped us off last year, another coach who took one of my ideas without attributing it and pretty much anybody who has ever ‘wronged’ me.
I totally understand that forgiveness is not always easy, but the benefits that come with it are so huge that it’s worth cultivating.
I’d be interested if you have ever dealt successfully with this topic and if so, how did you approach it?
Coach The Life Coach Starting on Sunday June 9th
I have somebody who is struggling to make the course and as such a place opened up.
The first course starting in May is still full, but if you’d like more information please check out this post and then if you are still interested, let me know!