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The Grudge Report

The soul cost of holding on to your resentments

by Gaye Rock



Last month ("The Gift of Forgiveness") we looked at the spirit and intention of forgiveness, as well as some of the physical costs generated by the anger of unforgiveness, or resentment. Now we will talk about what that costs you spiritually.

Would you put a monetary value on the damage someone has caused you? How much is a death worth? A robbery? A physical injury? Lawyers have done just that, but let's look at the "soul cost" of demanding payment of some kind.

First of all, who might someday make that same demand of you? How many people are still angry, upset or damaged by your own behavior? We are ALL perpetrators of hurt, in one way or another. Everyone is guilty of bringing about those feelings in another human being. This particular reflection, that we are all perpetrators, can by itself obliterate the victimhood and begin the healing. How much easier is it to dwell on others' faults, rather than your own! Suddenly, you and your offender begin to look like peas in a pod.

What kind of friend are you? Are you dedicated to those you love? Or do you often disappoint them? Perhaps you are faithful to them, but they constantly disappoint you and fail you. Don't hold it against them — they are what life has made them, all their experiences put together. Hurt and rejection are powerful, but also unavoidable parts of life. It's how you deal with those things that determines your character. You can become bitter, or you can get better.

You are able to forgive when you realize that, though humans fail you, Spirit never will and is omnipresent. You may even disappoint yourself, but Spirit is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. He will be doing the same things today, yesterday and tomorrow. You can trust Spirit to empower you and strengthen you. Chances are, people will persecute you, and some of your friends will even abandon you in tough times. But the great promise is that faith enables you to believe that there is an end to adversity. Healing is always available if you are willing to forgive. Spirit never leaves you, even if every other single person abandons you.



Forgiveness Is a Choice

Understand that bitterness and resentment block your prayers. To restore your relationship to Spirit, you need daily forgiveness both for yourself and for others. Also, understand that forgiveness has nothing to do with feelings. We can forgive without "feeling like it." It's a choice we make.

Your life should be different in your attitudes and actions once you have asked forgiveness for yourself, and here's how: Forgiveness works at three levels to help you — body, mind and spirit. Whom do you help most when you forgive? Yourself! It might seem unfair for the "forgivee" to receive forgiveness while you are still hurting, but you actually free yourself when you forgive, as opposed to keeping you both in prison. Forgiveness restores you:

Physically — You will feel better when you're not filled with the poison of unforgiveness. It lowers your risk of alcohol/substance abuse, and you can avoid self-medication.

Emotionally — You will be happier without that poison. You will have fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic pain.

Psychologically — You will eliminate the "vortex" of thoughts about the wrong they've done you, removing stress and hostility.

Spiritually — Forgiveness releases Spirit to work His magic within you. Unforgiveness restricts our faith from working. We can't be forgiven if we don't forgive. We reap what we sow. Sow judgment, reap judgment. Sow forgiveness, reap forgiveness.

And finally, forgiveness restores you at the cellular and soul level.

Faith in your own ability plays a part, as well. How much do you believe in your own ability to forgive? Everything is possible for one who has faith. And prayer and faith go hand in hand. Your trust and confidence are deepened by prayer and meditation. The more fervently we believe in it, the stronger our faith will be. (It's a circle!) So what I am saying is that you should constantly practice praying and meditating. Begin and end your day with a conversation with Spirit. It simply strengthens your ability to have faith, and hence, affects your possibility to AFFECT your acts of forgiveness.

To free yourself from unforgiveness, get the focus off of yourself. Begin and end your day in a spirit of gratitude, instead of "woe is me." This takes practice! If the best you can manage, at first, is, "Thank you, Spirit, for allowing me to wake up," then start with that. Practice forgiveness on small things, such as a rude clerk, driving offenses, etc. Practicing on small things is rehearsal for the big stuff. GET THE FOCUS OFF YOURSELF. Instead, how about asking Spirit, "What are we going to do today?" Make every day a wondrous experience.



Why Don't People Forgive?


All of us desperately WANT forgiveness and healing for ourselves — so why don't people forgive? There are many different answers.

Sometimes, it's because we lack experience and expertise. Without having the nuts and bolts of "how to," we don't know how to go about forgiveness. Or it could be because the offender doesn't apologize. Or the offender does apologize, but we think it's insincere. Another reason might be that we think the person doesn't deserve forgiveness. (This can be especially true of forgiving ourselves.) We might think that to forgive means we condone or agree with their behavior, or we think we are expected to forgive and forget.

Of course, there's the "I'm afraid of being hurt again" defense. We are angry when we've been hurt! Anger leads to blame, blame leads to resentment, and resentment leads to bad health and a bad mental state. Next, we want to change the wrongdoer into a "right doer." Or, we may have to re-establish relations with that person, and others might perceive us as "weak." Lastly, we might be comfortable in the role of "victim."

Realize that our popular culture doesn't emphasize forgiveness, but rather anger and vengeance. There are so many reality shows that revolve around bad non-forgiving behavior that I don't know where to start. Our society emphasizes, instead, "getting even."

It's also possible that we fool ourselves into thinking we have already forgiven. Denial is a powerful defense mechanism. We either pretend it never happened or avoid the truth by avoiding the messy process of forgiveness. Note that forgiveness is NOT instantaneous — it is a process, just like grief is a process.



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