Learn how to release yourself from the prison of emotional hurt without demanding vengeance.
It feels simply awful when you have been upset by someone who has used you, abused you and, therefore, wronged you. It is a horrible feeling when you feel neglected, left out or when someone has said or done something totally uncalled for. Perhaps someone has spread gossip about you. Perhaps your partner has been caught in an affair. Perhaps a family member has alienated you because of an incongruity about ‘the will’. These kinds of things shouldn’t happen if we follow “the golden rule” of treating others the way we would like to be treated. However, the truth is–it does happen. But constantly rehashing it deepens the bitterness and won’t improve or repair the problem. Deep emotional scars can arise, and poor health follows, when you are focused on the crisis and the pain instead of the solution. Your negative thoughts about it will rob you of your happiness and joy and even your very essence can be damaged in the process.
Upsets in life are inevitable; but staying hurt is a choice. I discovered I can decide to remain a victim by dwelling on how things (from my perspective) should have been, or employ the experience to grow emotionally. The memory of the pain can come up to agitate you whenever you think about the person or event or perhaps you suppress the anger or hurt deep inside. King David said, “When I kept silent…my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer”. Constantly talking to others about what happened only strengthens your resolve about being right, deepens your pain and keeps it alive. Expression or suppression–either way you get the same end result = emotional pain.
The first step to emotional maturity is putting yourself in the other person’s moccasins and endeavouring to understand what actually happened from all points of view–even if the person who wronged you is dead. Usually people who have been hurt by someone will find it very hard to recognize there are two sides to every story. Therefore, genuinely attempt to see things through the other person’s eyes. This can be easier said than done as we obviously believe we are right and the other party is wrong. A good question would be: What could have made the other person so callous or irritated or caused them to take the measures that hurt me so badly? What buttons were pressed in all these objectionable (to me) behaviours? When I stopped to ask myself why my offenders felt so strongly about an issue, what the situation was like for them, I gained a different perspective on their beliefs and their love and concern for me and their desire to protect me from my wilful self.
A good way to shatter this mental persecution is writing a letter to the offending person that never will be sent. Describe the stressful event in detail as you recall it. Remember the attitudes and behaviours you feel were so wrong and, therefore, unforgivable. Really uncover the areas where you were wounded and express why these events occurred, describing them from both perspectives. In this way you meticulously examine and express your wounded heart and how you felt in response to their actions and words. When you process it by writing out your list of hurts and grievances, you have the opportunity to re-enact the scene and reconsider how the events happened. Now you can choose to cleanse your heart of the disturbing pain. Once you have identified the feelings, you can choose to include forgiveness and the promise to never bring it to your memory again. Forgiveness was releasing my hurt. I talk more about how I did that in my book “Why Me?” Understanding allowed me to forgive in my heart, release the bitterness and resentment and keep it from building up.
So with FORGIVENESS came healing to my heart and the cancer. When you forgive someone it means you no longer blame, place guilt or fault. It was me choosing to overlook the event and release all hurt and injury without me demanding punishment or retribution. They didn’t have to ‘fix’ themselves or change themselves, I learned to accept them as they were and let them off the hook. It doesn’t mean the event didn’t happen, it just means I release the power that the event had over me. You follow God’s example and extend to your offender undeserved grace and mercy. You are saying, “I choose to release you from guilt. I do not hold you guilty.” And this forgiving them released me from my pain. Not easy to do, but so worth the result.