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Free yourself from negative emotions

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The journey of forgiveness will free you from the burden of carrying toxic feelings says DESPINA NICOLA

Imagine you’re an employee and you have been betrayed by a colleague, who is also a close friend. You confided in them about your deepest secrets, a crush you have at work, only to find out that they spread rumours about you. You feel hurt, betrayed and angry.

At first, you’re consumed by these negative emotions. You replay the betrayal in your mind over and over again, wondering how someone you trusted could hurt you in such a way. You feel a mix of sadness and anger, and the thought of forgiving your friend seems impossible.

But as time passes, you begin to reflect on the situation. You realise that holding onto anger and resentment is only causing you more pain. You start to consider your friend’s perspective and wonder if they were going through something difficult themselves.

Slowly, you start to let go of the anger and resentment. You realise that forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning what your friend did or forgetting about the pain they caused you. Instead, it means freeing yourself from the burden of holding onto negative emotions.

You decide to take small steps towards forgiveness. You journal about your feelings, talk to a trusted person, and seek guidance from a counselor. With time and effort, you begin to feel a sense of peace and healing.

Eventually, you’re able to forgive your friend.

In the end, forgiving your friend brings you a sense of freedom and closure. You’re able to move forward with your life, knowing that you’ve let go of the pain. However, have in mind forgiving does not mean trusting. Trust must be earned.

Now, consider the story of the scorpion and the frog. A scorpion wanted to cross a river one day but could not, when along came a frog.

The scorpion got so excited to see the frog because he needed help to cross the river, and the frog was his only hope. The scorpion was longing to see his family who were on the other side.

He asked for the frog’s help, and when the frog refused, the scorpion asked why. “Well,” the frog replied, “You scorpions are known to sting creatures like us.” To that, the Scorpion laughed. He said, “Isn’t that a crazy thing to do in this situation because if I sting you, you will die and drown and so will I.”

The frog thought about it for a while. Then he put his trust in the scorpion and put him on his back and proceeded to cross the river. Halfway across the river, the Scorpion stung the frog. As the frog was being poisoned and started drowning, he looked at the scorpion. He said, “Why did you sting me? Now we are both going to drown.”

The scorpion looked down at the sinking frog and sadly said: “This is my nature; this is what I have always done.”

The moral of the story is to forgive but trust only when others prove themselves. Assess someone’s true intentions. Forgiving does not mean giving people multiple chances.

Second chances are about trust. The scorpion never learnt from his old ways. He kept on hurting others, as it was his learned behaviour.

In practice, forgiveness often involves acknowledging one’s pain, reflecting on the situation, and considering the perspective of the offender. Remembering examples of God’s forgiveness, as outlined in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’, can provide inspiration and guidance. Releasing hurt, persisting in forgiveness, and offering prayers for the individual who caused the pain are essential steps in the journey of forgiveness.

By forgiving, one can release the bitterness that has enslaved them for years. Grudges only serve to perpetuate pain and destroy the individual holding onto them. As US writer Malachy McCourt stated, ‘Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.’

A powerful illustration of forgiveness can be seen in a practice shared by a teacher. By engaging students in an experiment involving carrying potatoes representing unforgiveness, the teacher demonstrated the weight and burden of holding onto resentment. Through this experience, the students came to understand the liberating nature of forgiveness and the importance of letting go of past hurts.

However, forgiveness does not necessarily imply giving second chances blindly. It is essential to exercise judgment, particularly when it comes to matters of trust. The story of the scorpion and the frog serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the importance of assessing someone’s true intentions before extending trust.

In short, the journey of forgiveness involves understanding, healing and trust. It is a process that requires patience, compassion and courage. Through forgiveness, individuals can find freedom from the chains of resentment and pave the way for reconciliation and peace.

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