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« Hatred ever kills, love never dies. » Gandhi

Revenge or Forgiveness

Each of us, when hurt by someone, want to strike back. Caught up in our suffering, licking our wounds like kittens, we dream of seeing the one who has hurt us suffer in return and say “Ah Ah! Now you see how it feels! “.

Grief and suffering, if not transcended, lead inevitably to anger and, if we allow ourselves to succumb to it, it leads directly to violence or, at the very least, to more sufferings on each part. If we apply the retaliation law “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, we can continue the enumeration ad infinitum “a finger for a finger, a foot for a foot…” until one of the participants or both die. Indeed, if you cause suffering to the person who hurt you, he/she will in turn get angrier and want to make you suffer even more. The circle of suffering will then become inextinguishable.

Moreover, hatred and anger emotions, while not generally lethal to the “enemy”, become so to us if we feed them. Indeed, due to the stress effect they induce, negative and violent feelings damage our body; the latter believes itself to be in a perilous situation, since it is experiencing a suffering and distress state, and thus secretes specific hormones to help him cope with danger: adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline sends us the burst of energy we need to react quickly to danger, but in the long term, this hormone prevents us from sleeping, tires our body into overdrive quickly leading it to oxidization and deterioration.
Cortisol is the hormone responsible for adrenaline-linked energy distribution throughout the necessary parts of our body (the legs to run from danger, for example) but, in the long term, as cortisol is linked to our ability to synthesize sugar and fats via our liver and pancreas, its excessive secretion leads to these organs degradation which can lead to diabetes and owerweight because it induces a greater need to eat to compensate for the faster sugar assimilation.

It is thus infinitely more interesting, in order to break the hatred and anger circle, to question the reason why of the other’s hurting gesture: Why on earth did he act like this? The recontextualization of his/her action, which means putting ourselves in his/her shoes, allows us to get out of the pure negative emotion that this behavior rose inside us and to begin to understand what really happened. Often, the malicious or clumsy act that hurt us is an expression of the other person’s unease or sadness. If we understand it, we can beghin to ask ourselves how we would have acted if we were in his/her shoes and integrate this discomfort or sadness into the equation; if we change our perspective on the situation and move out of our self-pity to think about how we react to others’ sadness, usually with compassion, we allow ourselves to let go of our anger in favor of forgiveness. Forgiving allows us to close the door on the incident, leave it in the past and continue serenely our journey without stress and resentment.

Sometimes, by changing our perspective, we can also realize that we have our share of responsibility for what happened. In this case, we can question our own behavior towards this person or this situation: did I react in the best way I could as a human being? Did I show the other with the best version of myself?
This allows us to progress in our relationship with the other, transcending the pain that the hurt has caused, and, above all, to progress towards the person we want to be and to whom we wish to smile brightly every day in our mirror.

For those who’d rather read long texts on paper, you can download this article in PDF.
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GClaudel4@Luc Naville BD

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