Sunday, November 21, 2004

To Err is Human, To Forgive...Practical

To Err is Human, To Forgive...Practical

I wrote about the difficulty of remembering people's names the other day. In certain situations however, the "ability" to forget can be a very good thing.

There are things that we want so much to forget but we can't. Usually these are painful experiences of the past, like a hurtful remark by a friend or loved one, an embarassing moment or an unwise act that brought about negative consequences.

Tell someone who has just broken up with his or her lover to forget about the relationship immediately--they can't because the emotions involved are still very strong. Forgetting is a process that takes time. Those who study physics can liken the process to the exponential decay of radioactive material: it will taper slowly towards zero over time but never ever reaching it.

In previous blog entries, I'ved discussed how we can deliberately use time to dissolve pain by thinking of pain as a drop of ink dissolving in water. Some stains are stubborn and will remain for a while, but if you are willing to let go, the force of time will be your ally.

How do we resolve to allow time to act on the things we want to forget? By forgiving--forgive yourself or the person who caused you that pain. True forgiving means completely absolving all blame or unresolved emotions associated with someone or something.

To forgive doesn't mean we do not take responsibility to rectify a wrong. We forgive because we do not want to be driven by negative emotions. We forgive because we have the wisdom to see things from a wider perspective and choose to act based on positive principles.

The moment we forgive, that drop of pain dissolves in the ocean of Time.

You see, it is very tempting to cling on to a hurt or a need to take revenge because it gives us energy and a sense of purpose to do things. It could work for a while but unfortunately these are negative driving forces, which will ultimately bring only destructive consequences. Nothing based on negative emotions has the ability to create lasting changes.

If we are driven by negative energies such as these, some other part of your life will have to end up feeding it: It will warp your relationship with your loved ones, isolate you from friends and colleagues or take a toll on your physical well-being.

To forgive and to forget are acts that are so creative because they free up trapped energy and allow it to pursue its true potential. To forgive does not mean you are being soft. It means you are mature enough to see beyond the immediate pleasure of blaming and latching on to easy excuses; it means you know how to use your emotional and mental energy productively to bring positive changes to the situation.

By choosing to forgive you do not allow your emotional bank account to be continuously drained by the past. Instead you cap your losses. You free up resources so that they can be invested in more lucrative projects. It is simply good, prudent emotional management.

You have to realize that you are also not responsible for making sure people who have wronged you get what they deserve. Punitive measures are His responsibility; and you should be grateful that there's Someone up there who's willing to do such a thankless job! For those who do not believe in God, there's this law of nature called karma. Same thing; works everytime.

Not only is forgiving divine, it is actually practical.

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