How to Use Forgiveness as a Stress Reducer

We were enjoying ourselves at a fair the other evening when we were approached by a young man and his friend who were extremely angry.  They stood in front of my husband, son, friend and I and seemed over the edge as if they were ready to fight all three of us.  At first we had no idea what this man’s problem was and we thought for sure it was a case of mistaken identity on his part.

He was very adamant that we, as a group, had a major issue with some people he knew.  As he went on and on, he became even more agitated and his stance was very threatening.  It was obvious that whatever it was this young man had thought we were involved in was extreme.  He felt so strongly that it was eating away at him.

I am a very non-confrontational person so I thought for sure he couldn’t be referring to me. His name-dropping went on for a few minutes until he finally mentioned the name of one of our best friends.  He was convinced that we wanted to start a fight with our friend’s sister and brother-in-law.

The interesting part was that it was the other way around.  My son had left his charger at our friend’s house after we attended her son’s birthday party and upon returning to retrieve it, he stomped loudly up the stairs to her second story apartment.  Her sister and brother-in-law lived on the first floor and came out threatening our son who was only 17 at the time.  After they were done verbally abusing him, they came outside and started screaming at the top of their lungs at us.  We were not interested in being involved in the drama and drove off.  As we did, they chased us down the street screaming at us.

This incident happened so long ago that we truly had forgotten about it.  But this young man standing before us had obviously held on to whatever story his parents had told him and was ready to fight three adults and a minor, whoever jumped first.  This anger did him no good.  We could have chosen to hang on to the anger of that situation.  We were the ones who were originally verbally attacked and the intensity of that situation would have made had most people calling the police, but we did not.  Time passed and we let it go.

I cannot imagine the stress this young man had been carrying with him all this time.  It was absolutely unnecessary.  I’m doubting that his parents told him the truth about the situation and what actually occurred and he was not there when it happened.  Yet, he held onto the anger that was created by a fabrication and exaggeration of a story he was told over a year and a half ago.

When we allow anger to occupy our thoughts, we decrease our own chance for happiness.  A positive thought cannot exist in the mind where there is a negative thought present.  When we learn to forgive people we are able to move on and free up space for positive thoughts. This can reduce stress and create greater possibilities and happiness in your life. 

Be mindful of your thoughts.  If you are holding a grudge for something you think someone did, said, or even thought, remember that it is not worth your own happiness.  You being angry at someone else does not change the situation; it only prevents you from moving forward.  It can actually keep you stuck right where you are.  It is equally true that you should not carry anger for other people.  Their drama is theirs to sort through, deal with and forgive.  You have enough in your own life to focus on.  Don Miguel Ruiz states, “Forgiveness is the only way to heal your emotional wounds.  Forgive those who hurt you no matter what they’ve done because you don’t want to hurt yourself every time you remember what they did.  When you can touch a wound and it doesn’t hurt, then you know you have truly forgiven.”

Think about your recent past, your childhood, your family, people you no longer talk to.  Who do you need to forgive in order to move forward?  Write it in a note.  It’s not necessary to give it to the person.  They may not even realize you have been carrying this with you or even understand why or how it has truly affected you.  Just let it go.  Rip up that note after it is written or burn it.  As you do, tell yourself that it is over and you are moving on.  Hopefully you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders.

Forgiveness is just one step closer to peace.

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