I was talking with someone today who had just recently lost his job over a bad week. I asked him to tell me about it and his story went like this:
"Well, it's all Jim's fault, my car was broken and he told me he would take me to work. The first day he showed up late to my house to get me, 45 minutes late, I was so pissed at him that I forgot to call in the job, luckily my boss gave me a pass. But my whole day just started going downhill from there. The worse it got the madder I got until I just had to leave. The next day he did it again and the same thing happened again. The third day he got me to work on time but I was just so frustrated with the way the week had been going that it was just impossible for me to get back on track. I got called into the bosses office later that day and got let go for poor performance. Its all his fault and I will never talk to him again, I don't need friends like that."
A little lesson in forgiveness was in order so I started with a saying that I had heard from a friend of mine. He told me one day during one of our talks about life that the negative emotions that come from the feeling of being wronged and aren't released through the act of forgiving have the same effect as holding a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at the target of your emotions. Before you get your vengeance you are burning your hands and even after you get it the damage has been done, hold the coal for to long and not only do you lose the ability to throw it, but you also loose the ability to hold and embrace anything else life has to offer.
Before this person could move on with their life and be of any use to themselves and society he needed to get over the anger he felt and the desire to get revenge. I told him what he was doing was putting on poisoned lip coating with the intent of kissing the target of his affection and every time he embraced those emotions he was liking his lips. He needed to accept responsibility for his situation and release his friend. He could have called him to check and make sure that he was up, he could have made other arrangement after the first time or the second time. He could have called his job, he could have used getting to work late as motivation to work extra hard while there instead of using it as an excuse to perform poorly and then go home. He need to recognize that this was his fault, accept his friends apology, release him and release the negative emotions, accept responsibility for loosing his job and then move on to the next phase of his life. I told him he simply needed to return to the place where he thought of his friend and had positive images and a genuine desire to want to see him be successful.
The most difficult part of this conversation was getting him to see that it was his fault. Once he had that concept down, everything else came easy. Forgiveness is your gift to yourself, there is a proven biochemical reaction to holding emotions both negative and positive. As you can guess, negative emotions adversely affect your health. We leaned into a talk about responsibility but that is a different section.
The last question he asked me was how often should he forgive the same person. My response to him was to forgive until you no longer needed to forgive that person. He looked a little confused and I realized he was still missing a key element in the idea of forgiveness, its something you give to yourself not to another person. You forgive them but the recipient of the benefits of your forgiveness is you, so why would you want to stop supplying yourself that good. Their should be no limit to how many times you forgive someone. But you should learn each lesson and not allow yourself to be placed in similar situations that would burn you in the same manner. But you should release that negativity and release that person which is in essence what forgiveness is.
As always thank you, feel free to leave comments, remember to send questions and request to email@example.com. Hit the like box for facebook, and follow me on twitter @patirvine. I hope you find this thought provoking.