There is sometimes too much hatred in the world, can one make a difference to oneself while being challenged with anger and emotinal hurt?
Despite being collected and adhered to one another in imaginary boundaries, we can never forget our individuality. We remember an entity with its labels and preferences and ideologies no matter what. However, sometimes we also tend to identify ourselves with things we hate or have taken offense from.
Societies have never been devoid of conflict, despite being collectively alright with warring nations and starving children, we individually do get hurt from our daily battles. On a more personal level, it is not uncommon when even our family and friends end up extending some emotional or other injuries toward us.
Jeffery Bernstein, Ph.D. writes in his blog on Psychology Today saying that when one is wounded by betrayal, or abused or hurt, its one's right to feel anger and resentment towards the cause of it all.
Bernstein says: "These are normal reactions and emotions when feeling the crushed spirit that can come from being disrespected or abused. If not dealt with, such angry reactions can damage personal health on several levels: These include killer cell cytotoxicity, autoimmune suppression, disruption of personal relationships, Acute Coronary Syndrome, and consequently increased mortality,"
We know that forgiveness is the key to solving such issues, however, it is not as linear as one may think. According to Bob Enright, Ph.D., there is more to forgiveness than just letting go. It is also about offering something positive such as empathy, compassion, and understanding to the person who has hurt you.
Studies have shown that forgiving someone can bring strong psychological advantages to the person who forgives. Enright mentions in his book 8 keys to forgiveness, that practicing forgiveness can propel one to build inner strength and boost one's self-esteem. Subsequently, once one starts forgiving more often, they can rid themselves of depression, anxiety, and unhealthy anger.
Another study suggests that forgiveness can play a major role in promoting more satisfaction in romantic relationships, which may lead to greater longevity and decreased negative conflict.
While it's important to forgive others, forgiving oneself is also as important in bringing a positive approach to life. According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, when one forgives oneself, it can relieve them of their guilt and negative emotions. Moreover, self-forgiving was crucial in increasing one's perceived control as well as heightening their parasympathetic activation.
The positive effects of forgiveness do not stop there. According to Barabara Fredrickson's broaden and build theory, our positive experiences can help us become more creative and expand our thought-action repertoire. This happens when our positive experience allows us to negate automatic responses (usually of impulses), leading one to have a more flexible mindset and new ways of thinking and acting.
But how can one walk the talk?
Bob Enright says: "Just as you would start slowly with a new physical exercise routine, it helps if you build up your forgiving heart muscles slowly, incorporating regular “workouts” into your everyday life."
Here are a few ways to begin:
1. Give no hurt
When one does not indulge in talking negatively about the person who hurt them, they are automatically strengthening their heart's and mind's forgiving sides. This association does not come easy, we can be quick to react sometimes, however, it becomes easier with practice.
2. Recognize people's individuality
When one acknowledges that people every person they meet is a unique being in themselves and holds potential for growth and specialty, it helps in forgiving them faster. This thought comes from humanist philosophy, which aims at cultivating a schema of valuing all of our common humanity, making it hard to dehumanize someone who has hurt us.
3. Love in everyday encounters
When you are out, or anywhere at all, try being nice to people you meet. You can choose to leave a bright smile on a child by indulging them a little or help an old lady walking along your way. It is not necessary to always reciprocate love, one can choose to spread it without any need. It helps in building one's love muscle.
Extending care and small acts of mercy can build up to immense strength for compassion. Try hugging your partner when they get mad, instead of fighting back. Giving back care when someone harms you is not easy, but it sure helps.