Since we are holistic people, looking at religious topics from a “secular” point of view can give us new perspectives. Dr. Symeon Rodger is a consultant for individual organizations. He writes the following on forgiveness.
“What exactly happens to us when we refuse to forgive others, when we hang onto old hurts and nurse them, thinking about the false sweetness of revenge? Dwelling on these negative emotions compromises your immune system in numerous ways and may eventually lead you to manifest serious physical symptoms.
“You will become increasingly vulnerable to negative emotions of all kinds and lose any possibility of inner, emotional freedom. This will blunt your capacity to experience genuine love, since loving requires vulnerability and openness to the possibility of hurt, it is a risk. You will not understand other people and see them as they really are, nor will you see reality as it really is.
“Your perspectives will become increasingly egocentric and deluded. Bottom line? If you want to pursue a life of joy, love, openness, freedom and retain your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, you must learn completely and unreservedly to forgive everyone who has ever offended you.
“Of course, there may be some obstacles along the way. You may feel you are unable to let go of your anger, your desire for revenge or justice. All of that is to be expected. So how do you get around it? Here are several tools to help you get started.
“First and foremost, you will never learn this critical skill unless you decide to stop blaming. Until you make the decision to forgive, absolutely nothing will change, so you need to start by convincing yourself that you need to do this.
“One way to help get past the anger is to realize that people who have hurt you either did so unintentionally or intentionally. If it were unintentional, as most hurts are, you can begin by imagining how the way they have been conditioned all their life led them to act in a way that was accidentally hurtful to you.
“If they hurt you intentionally, again consider their prior conditioning, the strength of the delusion(s) controlling their behavior and realize they were not acting as truly free agents. As Christ himself said as he was being crucified, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Likewise, consider that those who have hurt you intentionally are afflicted by the same insanity.
“Then think about how your real mission is not to hurt them back and perpetuate the cycle, but to act from a higher viewpoint and help them comes to their senses. Remember, all human beings act in ways they believe will bring them happiness. It is just that they are often quite wrong!
“Cultivating love and affection throughout your day will gradually teach you that the benefits of forgiveness vastly outweigh those of holding grudges. In our conflict-averse culture, many people are so afraid of interpersonal tensions that they make forgiveness and reconciliation into a kind of panacea, if not a ‘false god.’
“The fact is that in many conflicts there are real issues with which you must deal. Yes, you need to forgive the other party from the outset, but this does not mean the issues do not need to be dealt with openly and honestly. Quite the opposite, if the real issues are papered over with pseudo-forgiveness and a group hug, then that unresolved conflict will come back to haunt all of you. So in the forgiveness process, everyone has to face reality.
“Still think you’re have trouble forgiving your enemies? Then start by remembering the old adage, “When you forgive your enemies, it messes with their minds!’”