Saturday, April 4, 2009

Forgiveness: breaking the chains of the past

At different points in our lives, we all look back at our lives and review. And somewhere in that closet full of memories, we can all find a legitimate reason to be angry with someone. Some might be minor slights that can just be rationalized and forgotten. But others might be more profound and need debriefing in therapy, such as child abuse, sexual abuse, violence and experiences in war. Do you ever wonder, what am I still carrying around?

A good litmus test is how you react when you are behind the wheel. When someone cuts you off in traffic, can you say "I guess they are in a hurry" and just shrug it off? Or do you utter a stream of expletives in that split second? Judging by what I see on the roads, a good number of us fall in the 'stream of expletives' category. On occasion, so do I.

I am not suggesting that a few clever quotes will help anyone heal a significant trauma. They won't. But if you feel like you could almost forgive someone, these thoughts might just be enough to push you over that edge and into the territory of the forgiver. That said, I leave you with some of my favorite quotes on forgiveness.

From The Four Agreements (p. 104):

You don't need to blame your parents for teaching you to be like them. What else could they teach but what they know? They did the best the could, and if they abused you, it was due to their own domestication, their own fears, their own beliefs. They had no control over the programming they received, so they couldn't have behaved any differently.

The next quote is by Lance Morrow, a journalist and author:

Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another's control... to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else's nightmare.

And Longfellow wrote:

If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

For this last quote, I cannot locate the original source (anyone who can attribute this, please write)

Knowing who they are, what else could they do?

No comments:

Post a Comment