Words that heal | Sunday Observer

Words that heal

18 September, 2022

The English language is full of words running into over half a million. All of them are important for various purposes. Among them, however, you find a few words that heal. You can use such words and free yourself from the strain and bitterness of a grudge.

Some parents and bosses are quick to criticise their children and employees. Some parents never see the positive aspect of their children. Similarly some employers never recognize the latent talent of their employees. To this list can be added spouses who never appreciate the good qualities of their partners.

They inflict hurt on others that may take years to overcome. If you hold a grudge against someone, you tell them the worst of things imaginable. Thereafter you brood over what you had said. Despite religious teachings, many people think revenge is sweet.

In fact the best way to feel good is the opposite of taking revenge. If somebody has done something wrong to you, be prepared to say, “I forgive you.” I can remember a woman who got angry with me for something I had done, cursed me over the phone. She went to the extent of sending poison letters not only to me but also my family members. I did not react to her curses. After a few years, she called me to say sorry for what she had done. We became friends again and realized that life should not be wasted on revenge.

Letting go

Forgiving does not mean giving in. It simply means letting go. When once you forgive your enemy, you are no longer emotionally handcuffed to the person who hurt you. I happened to read Robin Casarjian’s ‘Forgiveness: A bold choice for a peaceful heart.’ The author forgave the man who had raped her. In a way it is a very rare occurrence. A person who has experienced emotional abuse in his childhood will find it difficult to forgive the wrongdoer. However, if you can do so, you will realize that forgiveness extricates you from someone else’s nightmare and allows you to live in a state of happiness.

Although we know the value of forgiveness, most of us harbour resentment. This may be due to the fact that you had no power to resist when the offence was committed. The trouble with us is that we feel more in charge when filled with anger. You may have seen how people react when they are angry.

You might ask how to forgive when you do not know how to do so. All the leading religions have taught us that forgiving instills in us a much greater sense of power. When you forgive someone you have the power to act the way you like. The question is not whether someone deserves forgiveness but you deserve to be free from anger.

Forgiving a wrongdoer is not a weakness on your part. Forgiving does not mean that the other person is wrong and you are right. Forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook. It is about pulling the knife out of your own gut. There is no necessity to carry a life-long grudge against your ex-husband or ex-wife and remain bitter towards them. In the West even divorced couples remain friends. That is one of the good qualities of decadent Western culture.

Books on forgiveness

There are many books written on forgiveness. Suzanne Simon’s ‘Forgiveness: How to make peace with your past and get on with your life’ is worth reading. The author says, “While you are turning yourself inside out with bitterness, the one who hurt you doesn’t feel a thing.”

The act of forgiveness is good for your body and soul. When you brood over past unpleasant events, you tend to ruin your health. As Dr Redford Williams says, “Simply remembering an incident that made a person angry has proved to be stressful for the heart.” When you entertain negative feelings they can lead to high blood pressure.

When you are terribly hurt, you will need more time to forgive the offender. Time is a master healer. As we grow old, most of us forget unpleasant incidents and encounters. Sometimes even without making an open forgiveness, you will forget the intensity of certain events. If you are trying to find a reason for forgiving someone, try to make sense of what really happened and take mitigating circumstances into account.

Final stages

Sometimes you never reach the final stages of forgiveness. Children, especially, will find it difficult to forgive those who hurt them. In this respect parents and teachers have a duty to educate children on the benefits of forgiving wrongdoers. Even if you can give the wrongdoer a partial forgiveness, it is beneficial. Sometimes people do not know the ways of forgiving. This is a serious matter to be dealt with.

You can learn the art of forgiving with small types of hurt. For instance, it is easy to forgive hurt inflicted by strangers. Once a reader flared up when a library assistant imposed a fine on him for returning a book late. She probably made a miscalculation before imposing the fine. When the reader paid the fine, the library assistant apologized to him. Such minor incidents happen almost every day.

Some people are full of venom all the time. There was a female colleague who was always waiting to kick up a row. She used to vent her anger and disappointment on others for the slightest reason. Some of them need psychiatric treatment. As normal people we have to free ourselves of bad feelings so that we will have nothing to fear.

Write a letter

If you cannot forgive a wrongdoer in person, send a letter explaining the circumstances under which you had acted irrationally. When you are frank in your statement anybody will read your letter with interest. Forgiving someone in writing is something strong because it is a permanent document. You can even resort to e-mail for this purpose. If the person who wronged you is no longer living, destroy the letter you had written and forget the whole issue.

Always remember the old adage “To err is human, to forgive divine.” We all make mistakes because we are human. Therefore, forgiving should be easy. By forgiving, however, you do not forget the hurt, and there is no need to do so. Some Sinhala and Tamil telefilms highlight revenge as something glorious. Children who watch them may think revenge is sweeter than forgiveness.

What are the long-lasting benefits of forgiving? There are many. After you have forgiven a wrongdoer, you feel lighthearted and happy. You can even laugh heartily because you do not harbour any ill feelings. All the good feelings you generate will pave the way for a happy life. [email protected]