So people often say you need to just let go an forgive, because holding on to anger and sadness is only going to affect you, “Its like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die”. But we all know that it is not that simple.
Why is forgiving so hard? It is hard because you want the other party involved to acknowledge that they were wrong before you can bring your self to forgive. But more often than not, the other party will be oblivious to the fact that they have done anything wrong by you. Or may be that they choose to ignore it so they don’t have to face the guilt or their ego is stopping them from coming forward and owning up. Or sometimes the injustice is not something you can directly address. Because it was not direct and addressing it would mean that you will be made to feel like you have lost your marbles.
Unfortunately what this means is that we find it hard to forgive and the resentment build up inside of us. Of course the ideal situation is that the two parties sit down and have a mature conversation about what’s happened and taking responsibility for their part in it. But what if this is not possible?
Well, after trying out many things over the years I think I have found a tool that potentially may help to reduce all the negative thoughts and emotions that will come up blaring inside when you think about the injustice you feel has happened to you.
This popped into my head as I was watching an animal training show on TV. Its like this. What does a duck say? “Quack Quack “. What does a snake do when it is scared. It bites. What does a rabbit do. It hops. We recognise that these are inherent qualities and habits of these individual animals. No matter how strange, disturbing or annoying the animal is, we forgive because we understand that it is their nature and we recognise that it is what makes them who they are and we find it even adorable specially with the duck and the rabbit.
So the idea is to apply that to human beings. You recognise that this person has a certain aversion to something you do with your life because it triggers something within them or they just behave this way because that is just how they are and they don’t know anything different. Imagine two fluffy animals in the same situation as you both are in having the same conversation. Then examine the side of the other person. Imagine the entire situation playing out inside your head but this time the characters are two fluffy animals. When you do this you will be able to see why the other person did what they did and it will be much easier to forgive. Once we let go of the anger and hurt we should be able to let go. But we will remember the nature of this person and avoid creating more situations where more anger could build up between you both.
Apparently this a technique that psychologist use to change the subconscious thinking patterns of people specially the ones we have about ourselves. Because images can touch our subconscious a lot more easily than any rational thinking or analysis. Also we are much more forgiving when mistakes are made by fluffy animals. Also when you intentionally become a third party to the situation you suddenly have more perspective. Sometime we need to realise this the nature of this individual. You can even give them a funny name to represent that persons species.
It so happened that a week or so after I realized this I picked up a book that was sitting in my shelf for a few years by Dr. Kerry Spakman. He uses this type of techniques with his clients and he explains why it is so effective in his book. His work is ground breaking and I think his book is one of the best self improvement books around.
So to end, I think this is good tool to employ if we struggle to forgive. Some people by their very nature is able to let things go very easily. But for others this is not so easy. So its important to have these tools which we can practice as often as we can. I know that at least this is something that has helped me and I am trying to practice this technique more.