There is a saying, “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
I find that lately, there’s a lot of anger in the world. All you have to do is dial into social media to feel people’s wrath! In so many different ways they seem to be shouting, “I’m right! You’re wrong!” Not only is it apparent that people are unwilling to accept another’s point of view, they’re also unwilling to forgive the differences in opinion.
The problem is the effect that all this anger has on us. Why should we not only accept that others might have a different opinion from our own, but more importantly, forgive them? Because holding on to the anger also effects our own physical health.
In Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness, an article written by a Mayo Clinic staff member, they say that forgiveness can lead to:
- healthier relationships
- improved mental health
- less anxiety, stress and hostility
- lower blood pressure
- fewer symptoms of depression
- a stronger immune system
- improved heart health
- improved self-esteem
I remember being so angry at someone once, and carrying this anger with me for a very long time! I felt like she had “done me wrong” and never apologized for it. Whenever her name came up, I could almost feel my insides burning! I just couldn’t get past this. I wanted something that was never going to happen — that apology.
Then one day I ran into her. I saw her at a distance, laughing with a friend. As we passed each other, she smiled, as if nothing were wrong. Really??? How dare she be laughing and having a grand time, while I’m seething over this whole thing. To her, it was like it never happened. But for me, I still carried the full weight of that anger every time the thought entered my mind.
It was in that moment that I realized, “What am I doing???” I was the one holding the hot coal, and I was the one getting burnt. I knew I had to let it go. And I mean LET IT GO! Make complete peace with the situation.
Acceptance is a choice we make. We choose to either hold on to the hot coal, or let it go. The choice is ours. Now, that’s not to say that I should have a relationship with this person. No way! Because there’s another saying that goes like this: When someone shows you who they are, believe them! What it does means is that we choose to accept what is, learn from it, then move on!
Forgiveness is NEVER about the other person; forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves! And let’s be honest — often times the person that we need to forgive most, is ourselves!