One of the most counter-productive hindrances to midlife renewal and a joyful, productive second half is lingering bitterness over something someone said or did in the past. Do you still harbor hard feelings towards any of the following:
- A former employer who let you go?
- An ex-husband or ex-wife following a bitter divorce?
- A parent, relative or someone else who abused you as a child?
- Silliest of all–a former friend or acquaintance who said something, perhaps years ago, that hurt your feelings? (Note: to most of us, the remark may seem trivial, but not to the person offended. This is mostly a woman thing.)
In extreme cases, resentment and bitterness can zap your energy, drain your confidence, release negative chemicals into your body and significantly increase your level of stress. In the extreme, it may be hard dealing with current issues–those issues that really do matter now. So much for the negative impacts. I challenge you to come up with even one positive outcome from holding a grudge! In fact, bitterness over something past that can’t be altered now accomplishes absolutely nothing positive for you or for anyone else. Even if you “succeed” in getting even by hurting the offending person, does this really enhance your life? Over time, will this really make you feel better? Of course not!
To wake up to the positive life experience you so richly deserve and to make a fresh start, I implore you to bury once and for all every lingering conflict and every ounce of hard feelings you may be harboring towards anyone else. At the same time, apologize and ask forgiveness from anyone who may remain bitter towards you.
Here are three sound reasons to forgive another person this very day:
- Forgive another to benefit you. For peace of mind and spiritual well-being, it is essential that you cleanse your consciousness of all bitterness. Time and energy spent recalling an unhappy past is time away from imagining, visualizing and planning for a positive future!
- Forgive another to benefit the person who may have wronged you. In fact, certain individuals against whom you hold a grudge may not have the slightest clue of your anger (e.g., a boss who laid you off from that great job seven years ago.) Others may be painfully aware of the circumstances (e.g., an estranged friend, a former spouse, a “disowned” son or daughter)! Your acknowledgement of a fresh start can help ease their burden of regret.
- Forgive another to benefit innocent “third parties.” Family members and others who had nothing to do with the offense, real or imagined, from long ago have suffered long enough! No more inflicting them with complaints and vows to get even!
Forgiving another does not necessarily mean condoning the other person’s behavior. Obviously, you would never accept the behavior of an uncle or cousin who fifteen years ago sexually abused your son or daughter. You still can communicate, directly or through a trusted intermediary, that you are willing to accept that he has changed, that after all these years you do not continue to hold a grudge and that you wish him all the best.
Restoring a damaged relationship with a loved one, an ex-spouse, an estranged family member, a former close friend, a prior boss or a business colleague is far from easy, but once accomplished generates tremendous reward and peace of mind. Why make life more difficult by dwelling upon a negative interaction which may have occurred weeks, months even years ago. Lingering bitterness is like a fatal roadblock to an otherwise successful journey to midlife renewal. Isn’t it time you let bygones be bygones and moved forward to positively transform every aspect of daily living, including intimate personal relationships.
For more on the miraculous power of forgiveness, tune into the Monday May 20, 2013 episode of my Internet radio program. “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age” on WebTalkRadio.net. I interview Joseph Padgal , an author who has written the book FIREDANCE all about the power of forgiveness