One of the most toxic substances you can put into your body is resentment. Harboring anger, resentment, and grudges are like the popular adage “drinking poison and wishing the other person would die.” Certainly we want to validate and honor our angry feelings and hold people accountable for their transgressions and betrayals, but when we start to identify and hold onto this anger is when a healthy anger turns into a toxic substance. There is unchecked anger all around us. You can see it in the adult who never healed his trauma, in the child whose parents guided them with the same toxic tools, in crime, traffic, and the list goes on and on. We even web thoughts in our mind, create reality that isn’t necessarily reality, and get angry at something that doesn’t even exist, but our own minds. This scenario is typical of toxic relationships that are wrought with co-dependency, control and are usually rooted in some kind of trauma that each person unconsciously seeks to heal through the other.
And, then there is one of the greatest tools we have – our brain. We are as finely tuned as are brains. If your brain has had a bad life (and haven’t most of our brains had some very bad experiences), chances are that you may be doing the best you can with the brain you were given and that is why forgiveness is so important, for yourself and others. Have you ever been in a situation where someone (fill in the blank here, i.e., significant other, mom, dad, brother, sister, child, friend, client, etc. ) bit your head off, through no fault of yours, but for some reason you were the trigger, and perhaps part of the collateral damage of their emotional machine gun?
Mark Brady, PhD, has spent years researching, writing and teaching on neuroscience and bringing it to the public in a very digestible way, and he indicates that every brain at some point in time will go through what he terms a “spasmodic, trauma-linked disorganization, which shows up in emotionally expressive ways”, i.e., my example above.
Maybe you are not the cause of the expressed angry outburst, but you can learn to create some peace and harmony by taking responsibility for possibly being the trigger and practicing some fearless compassion (i.e. holding others accountable in a compassionate way the consequences of their reality).
Knowing how your brain works may just save your peace of mind, keep your blood pressure low, your heart healthy and happy, and bring some peace and harmony back to all your relationships, despite that next heated moment and the one after that, whether you are the actor or the viewer. When we understand that we all will at some point go through a “spasmodic, trauma-linked disorganization, which shows up in emotionally expressive ways”, then what more can you really invite in but the beauty and release of forgiveness as an act of love? We must cultivate this kind of humility and the best way I know how is to start breaking down the walls of self and other in the outside world and in the mind through daily meditation, yoga, and/or prayer.
One of my favorite spiritual authors, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, said in his book Guide to Forgiveness “forgiveness is an attitude not an act.” And Jesus, one of the greatest spiritual teachers of our time said “forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:43. I invite you to really read these truisms, breath them into your being, feel and know them deeply within. Invite forgiveness into your being, not just something you say and move on. When you can skillfully forge a bond with forgiveness as an everyday practice of Self (self here means the you that is, the unchanging you, your essence), you will free yourself from so much pain and anguish, and you will spare others similar pain. And you will be better armed with constructive tools to accept and manage anger and resentment from a compassionate lens ending the cycle of blindness. As Gandhi said “an eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind.” Bring forgiveness into your being, as a daily practice, as part of who you are and you will naturally bring light into the world and freedom to your soul.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea