Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been. When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day. What follows is one piece of that advice. I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.
To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.
Without a doubt, there will be many times in your life when others will do you wrong in some way or other. Some of these wrongs will be accidental, others deliberate. Some will be monsters—life-changers that will hurt deeply and cause major heartaches.
The people who commit these wrongs will be as varied as the acts themselves. Coworkers, friends, relatives—there’s no telling where hurtful events can originate. The most painful source is close family members—a parent, spouse, or sibling. Worst of all, you yourself may be the source of an unspeakable action that hurts those you love.
Forgive. As hard as it is, forgive. Forgive everyone. Forgive them for every wrong.
Most important, forgive yourself. Until you forgive, you can’t truly move forward. And you must move forward.
Your life lies in the future, not the past. Don’t let the past hold you back. There’s nothing you can do about the past—it’s gone, and you can never bring it back. The only time period you have any control over is the time that’s ahead.
Going back and rehashing past wrongs is a frustrating, useless exercise that does nobody any good. It’s like picking at a scab. The way to heal a wound is to leave it alone and let time and nature do their work.
What is forgiveness? It is a genuine, deep-down, permanent release from any harsh feelings, resentment, or anger. You’ve heard people say, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.” Well, that’s not really forgiveness at all. Forgive and forget. It’s not easy, but you must do it—for your own sake as well as others’.
It’s true: carrying a grudge really is like being stung to death by a single bee. What’s more, these are self-inflicted wounds; the person carrying the grudge keeps stinging himself.
Forgiveness carries the tremendous power to heal and to liberate at the same time. Stop stinging yourself. Forgive, and get on with your life. And when you are wronged in the future, forgive again, and again, and again. Leave the past behind, and keep moving ahead.