If we don’t forgive we have lesions not lessons.
Do we want to stay wounded or do we want to be wise? We only gain in wisdom if we actually learn from our experiences. We are unlikely to gain any wisdom, or helpful insights, from an experience if all we have is a sense of bitterness and resentment about it. We need to be willing to release those feeling in order to gain whatever benefits are possible. It can be tempting to wonder what possible benefit we can obtain from some particularly painful event; however, we could turn this around and decide that the more painful the event the more important it is to derive some benefit out of it. A benefit is good, no matter how small. The ability to find a benefit, or derive meaning, from an event can have a profound effect on our healing process, as it reconnects us with what is good in life and what is good in ourselves.
If we hold onto our wounds in an area of life then we hold back the growth of wisdom in that area of experience too. If we stay wounded, and do not engage with the forgiveness process, we are less likely to have the necessary wisdom to avoid or prevent similar types of painful events. Even if painful aversion stops us from creating exactly the same type of event with the same person, we may create similar experiences with other people. Also when we hold on tightly to a painful experience we are holding ourselves hostage to that pain.
Have you ever met a person who is so embittered by something that it is hard to reach them? Bitterness is not exactly passive is it? It spills out all over the place and can affect everyone around the embittered person. People who get locked into “They did it to me.” and who do not get past that, then go on to do ‘it’ to everyone around them. Bitterness makes people abusive, and it make them assume that their abusiveness is justified as they are the ‘victim’. Alternatively it makes them so withdrawn that they are unavailable to connect with in a healthy way. If we had a parent, teacher, or carer like this it can be very harmful.
Bitterness is an active and harmful process of thinking and feeling. Bitter and resentful people as parents are unable to give their children the love they need. Maybe they thought having a family would heal them and are even more bitter because it did not. Having a family only heals them if they let go of the bitterness and connect with that family. Bitter and resentful bosses are unable to support their staff. Bitter people go after ‘the money’ and do not care about much else, as they feel uncared for and can only connect with others who are the same. Most of us tend to avoid a bitter person – which gives them something else to be bitter about.
Releasing bitter wounds and stepping into wisdom is awakened through forgiveness. We tend to isolate the idea of forgiveness and think of it as something separate and distinct from such things as wisdom or insight. This is sometimes helpful, but not when it prevents us seeing that forgiveness has a lot to do with developing wisdom. Wisdom is very closely connected with forgiveness and awakening one often awakens the other. A deeper capacity for wisdom makes it easier to forgive. It makes us more understanding of other people and their motive and less likely to take things personally. Likewise a more forgiving attitude makes it easier to develop wisdom as we are more able to look beyond our own initial reactions and look deeper. We may then see that what was going on with the other person was nothing to do with us and was them acting out some pain or fear of their own.