It has been said that “to ere is human, to forgive divine”. I am sure that when it was first said, it was the one being forgiven that thought it was divine. Nobody likes eating crow, no matter how much humility you marinade it in.
We are human, we make mistakes. We are supposed to make mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes on a regular basis, you are not breathing. Why am I talking about forgiveness? It is one of the most unconditional contracts we should make when embarking on this journey we call ‘life’.
On a daily basis, I see my patients suffering from a nebulous, strange phenomena. They come complaining of aches and pains that do not fit a normal diagnostic criteria. Like it or not, we are our worst enemies and one of the most fatal flaws I see, is the inability to forgive and move forward.
Yes, our diet should contain crow and we should eat it on a regular basis.
My father taught me a good lesson when I was small. When he noticed that as a teenager, I would easily become frustrated at the insensitivities of others towards me he said “come here”. I approached him and he smacked me. I said “what was that for?!” he smacked me again. Remember, my father is a peaceful, even keeled man that has never once spoken a word in anger or haste, you could imagine my surprise. He said “son, someone can do the worst of all things to you and you have a choice how you will react. You choose your response; you can be mad or otherwise. It doesn’t matter if the act against you was warranted, fair or just. You decide how you will react. You choose your feelings. You choose your outcome. People will do horrible things to you from time to time, forgive it and move on”.
So with a smile I said “I get it”. And with another smile, I smacked him back. ‘Student has become master’, I thought. People will be unjust. That is the first rule. The second rule is that you choose how you react.
I am reminded of one of my mothers’ favourite quotes. She said “to not forgive someone is to let them live rent-free in your head”.
You choose how you will react. Always.
When one talks of forgiveness, they need to understand that the person we have to forgive first and foremost is ourselves. Sure, it is easier said then done. But it must be done. Spend some time with yourself and ask yourself what it is you need to forgive yourself for and for the love of God, stop beating yourself up. Forgive it. Move on. Once you do this, it is infinitely easier to forgive others for their actions.
This is important because our thoughts have energy and consequences to them. Poor thoughts will suppress your immune system and somewhere in your body that unresolved issue is going to manifest. You will become tired, then sick. Observe your friends who are going through a divorce. How do you think their immune system is holding up?
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful things you can do to help you in your life. Forgive your spouse, forgive your ex-spouse, forgive your friend, and forgive a family member. When you look at it, forgiveness is a very selfish act, for you are serving only yourself.
You don’t have to walk up to someone and place your hand on their head and say in your best Ghandi voice “I forgive you, now go in peace”. Just forgive them in your mind, do so once and don’t look back. You are done with it.
We all have someone to forgive and maybe this will help you; we are all at different levels of our evolution, some of us are primal Neanderthals and some of us are enlightened (the worst of the bunch is the Neanderthal that is sure they are enlightened, you get the point). Take people for what they are; flawed. I am flawed too. There is a great sense of liberation in knowing that we are sometimes wrong.
To forgive someone does not mean that you should be a mat to be walked upon. Rather it means that you will not allow that person to hurt you anymore. It actually takes you you off the floor and wipes away the muck.
Henry David Thoreau said it best; “To thine own self be true.”
Dr. Thiel is an author, lecturer and Doctor of Chiropractic. He currently practices in Kelowna and welcomes your questions and comments.