Research tells us that fear, constant anger, and bitterness can flood your mind and block your ability to access critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It can even warp your ability to view situations realistically, and undergird limited beliefs. Moreover, it kills creativity. Emotional stress can be likened to a toxicity which suppresses the full function of the body, heart and mind.
The Case for Forgiveness
It is impossible to function well with this constant pressure nipping at your heels.
Then it makes sense to clear repressed anger from your spirit, so you are living more in alignment to how you were created—-as an unlimited being.
Sadly, bitterness has been a companion for some of you— for months, years and even decades. Some of you are even defined by your bitterness.
So expect the process of letting go of ought and bitterness to be an unpredictable journey, taking longer than you anticipated. But you are worth the work.
My process has been decades long. My proclivity has been to personalize and internalize perceived and actual abuses that punctuated my childhood. Others, however, externalize their anger. You might find such people lashing out at others—verbally or physically.
For me, you had only to listen to my cruel self-talk to realize that I was on a mission to beat myself up for the ways in which I was unable to provide the answers to my parents’ tough problems as a young child. “You are not enough! If you were smarter, prettier or more behaved you’d make people happy!” It made me miserable.
Ruminating on the past and its’ accompanying bitterness, only stoked my spiritual ailment until I hit rock bottom in my early twenties. Riddled with secondary issues, anxiety, nameless terrors, depression and deep self-loathing, I was rendered helpless.
Navigating the Maze to forgiveness
Navigating the maze to forgiveness has gifted me with certain epiphanies:
1. Release the emotional pressure valve by finding a warm, mature person with whom you can share your feelings. Being vulnerable with another allows you to drink in understanding, tenderness and empathy which rewires the brain.Grief shared is half the burden.
2. Understand that you’ll activate the grieving process through confession. Particularly if you’ve been violated years and even decades ago, you will realize that there are tears you should have cried when you were eight, but was not able to.
Perhaps the reality of a particular violation was too weighty and you repressed the horror of it. But the reality of the negative event is within you and it’s been seeping out in disastrous ways for most of your life. So, let it find its proper expression.
As you process the offense, the surfacing shock may stomp you as you accurately name the REALITY, and the sorrow about what you’ve lost by being violated (for instance your innocence if it were sexually abused) can feel very heavy. The anger, the confusion, but the eventual acceptance and resolution are perfectly normal stages which result in healing. So be patient with yourself, and make sure you have the emotional supports—-the therapist, the friends or coach—to lean on.
3. Understand that forgiveness is for you. Releasing bitterness and accompanying negative emotions is so you can free up positive energy to live the LIFE YOU DESERVE.
4. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to expose yourself to the offender again. It is your right to dissolve an unhealthy relationship, or to restructure it so you’re not exposed to their brand of brokeness.
Reclaim your emotional health
Yes, the process for me has been arduous but also surprising, invigorating and hopeful. I am reclaiming my emotional health, my critical thinking skills, and creativity. Resilience and increasing esteem and self-respect has also been a beautiful by-product of this journey. Remain sane in an insane world by draining toxic bitterness from your life.
Rosalind Henderson is a certified John Maxwell leadership trainer. Learn how to lead yourself and better influence others. Join my Facebook page.