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The Rise Of New Competency – Forgiveness
This world is full of things which we love and which we don’t. There are things which are pleasant and then, unpleasant. There are events which we celebrate and those which we grieve about. There are people who make us happy and those who make us sad. We have our likes and dislikes. And that’s how life turns to be. No matter who you are, you will have your share of these in different quantities. And this makes life, life.
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With all the good things we experience, life looks like an amazing journey; but when we tend to experience pain, hurt & the negative events, that’s when life tests us to the core. Our entire quality of life is not dependent on the events of life, but our responses to the events. You will find enough people having a lot of good things happen to them, but they still remain sad and depressed. At the same time, many people go through difficult times, and are still rejoicing completely.
If we want a better world, we need better countries. Better countries are a result of better societies, and better societies spring out from better people. These people are the ones who makes communities, work in companies, groups and they drive change. All of this comes down to the single individual. Every human plays a significant role in society at large. If the individual can cultivate qualities like happiness, joy, and forgiveness, this automatically starts impacting the groups, organisations, states and countries. But how many of us are able to live with these qualities?
The one critical factor which ensures what kind of life we live is the skill or virtue of forgiveness. This one quality has the power to impact our life and is a quality like non-other. Today with the advent of scientific research, we have concrete data available which supports the argument of forgiveness being an essential pillar for us to improve our lives.
Before we see some scientific research, think about this: when we go through difficult times, when people close to us hurt us, when someone cheats us, wrongs us, or doesn't live up to our expectations, how easily and quickly are we able to forgive them? If we don’t, then we carry the emotions of sadness, pain, hurt inside our system, which creates a disruption within. When in that state internally, it becomes almost impossible to do any significant work. Until there is a sense of peace and calmness within us, our work outside will not be remarkable and excellent.
Forgiveness is a process which helps us release the pain and the hurt inside. It’s the process that helps us remain clean from inside. Let’s take an example of a car passing by which splashes some mud on you and your clothes get dirty. What happens here? As your outer clothes get dirty, inside you also feel a lot of anger and rage. You go back home and you wash those clothes, as you want them to be clean and proper for use the next time.
But what happen to your inner dirt, the dirt which got created because of anger and rage? That remains as it is. It spoiled your mood that day and it also affected your emotional, mental state going forward. You did nothing to clean the dirt within? Does it get cleaned automatically? In this case, because you don’t know the person, in a few days, you may forget the incident. Now what if there is an event where your boss, colleagues, family or friends are involved? Then are you able to forgive them easily or do you carry the inner dirt (sadness, hurt, pain) for days, weeks, months and years. This is so common with most of us, as no matter who you are, someone is going to hurt you and sometimes badly. Most often, it’s by the people who are close to us.
In one study, Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet , a psychologist at Hope College, asked people to think about someone who had hurt, mistreated and offended them. While they thought about this person and his or her past offence, she monitored their blood pressure, heart rate, facial muscle tension, and sweat gland activity. The findings were, when people recalled a grudge, their physical arousal soared.
There was an increase in their blood pressure and heart rate and they sweated more. Ruminating about the grudges was hurtful and it created an unpleasant feeling in the subjects. It also made them feel angry, sad, anxious and stressful. When the same group of people were asked to practice forgiveness, their physical arousal went down, and there was a significant drop in stress level.
In one of her interviews, Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, Karen Swartz, M.D., discusses the impact of not forgiving and the benefits of practising forgiveness. She says, “If someone is stuck in an angry state, what they’re essentially doing is being in a state of adrenaline. And some of the negative health consequences of not forgiving or being stuck there are high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, not having a good immune response. You’re constantly putting your energy somewhere else.”
She goes on to further add, “There has been excellent work that looks at what gets better after forgiveness training. Blood pressure is lower. People report needing fewer medicines. They report having better sleep. They report physically feeling better and having fewer physical complaints.”
In another study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, researchers analysed the physical and mental health of 148 young adults. There was a significant correlation found between high-stress level and more health problems. When the participants were made to practice forgiveness, the connection between stress and mental illness practically disappeared.
We have enough science which shows us that living a happy, joyful and meaningful life is practically impossible without developing the virtue of forgiveness. The way humans learn and develop is through making mistakes and in the process, the other human is at the receiving end. If we don’t practice forgiveness consciously, we tend to create a massive disruption within our body and different systems. It not only affects our internal health but also the physical, emotional and mental performance in our work place.
Reflect on yourself. When you are burning from inside because someone has hurt you, are you able to do well in the work you are doing? Are you able to concentrate properly? Are you able to enjoy the work? Are you able to increase the performance levels?
No wonder in our ancient scriptures, spiritual teachers used to emphasize so much on forgiveness. Almost every teacher has talked about this and encouraged us to practice forgiveness to lead a happy and healthy life.
As we focus to grow in our work, in our relationships, in life, financially, spiritually, without having the ability to forgive, it will be very difficult for us to move ahead.
How does one forgive?
It’s a simple process. It doesn’t always mean reconciliation. You may or may not talk to that person. The behaviour of the person is not encouraged. Forgiveness is about consciously looking at the pain inside and releasing it outside. It always encourages shifts in the way we see things. Most of us have may have hurt many other people and have received forgiveness from them. I suggest doing a small prayer, wherein it is very easy to forgive someone.
- Before you start the practice of forgiveness, take some deep breaths and recall mentally the hurt and pain you experienced. As you recall, consciously and deeply, exhale out the breath with the intention of exhaling out all the pain, hurt, sadness from your body. Do this for 8-10 times or till you feel peace within.
- Once the above is done, you can create the following intention thinking about the person. Mentally or verbally you can affirm, “I forgive you for whatever you have done. I forgive you completely. I let go of the pain within me. I release the pain. I release and free myself. May you develop wisdom and intelligence and peace within.” Do this affirmation for as many times as you can, and as you keep exhaling deeply.
As you start practising this, the first thing you will experience is a lot of inner peace and calmness. You will be much lighter. Doing this every day will result in your improved health and life. This is how you will be able to focus better on your work and tasks, and be able to achieve your goals by being in a peak performance state.
Remember, forgiveness is not about someone else, it’s about our own self. It’s a choice we have to make between suffering or getting healed. When we forgive, we set ourselves free from the grip of the past, pain and hurt. Without it, we can never ever be totally free.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.