It may not at first glance seem to be all that important to your mental and spiritual well-being but as Darren Hayes so aptly says in the famous Savage Garden song “I believe that forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness”.
When I reflect on some of the suspected causes of depression, I can’t help but notice that many of these tend to be related to things that have happened to us in our past. I say to my audiences when I give talks on the difference between stress, anxiety and depression…stress is about what is happening right now, anxiety is about the future and depression is about the past.
Somewhere in our past something happened. How could it not have. We have lived some life right? We have had some experiences both good and bad and some down right ugly right? And what comes with the territory of being a human being is having to have interactions with other human beings. Fortunately or in some cases, not so fortunately, we share our experience of life with others. At first, our parents or primary carers and then possibly our siblings and then others enter the arena.
And people do some horrible things to us. They behave in ways that are sometimes inexcusable and for which, at least in our eyes (and possibly even in the eyes of the law), they should be punished. It may have been a parent, an uncle, an aunt, a sibling, a best friend, a cousin, a wife, a husband or a friend. People who we thought we supposed to be there for our own wellbeing and happiness. People who at the very least, should NEVER have consciously inflicted any pain – emotional or physical – on us.
But, sometimes they do. And it hurts like hell.
And we turn that pain and anger inwards, especially if we are young or dependent on them for our physical survival. And we do this because we perceive that it would be too dangerous to speak out and tell them that what they did was wrong. Or if we do, we can sometimes reap their wrath and fury and we then shrink back and we swallow the hurt and then the growing resentment towards them until it appears to have gone underground and left us alone. But, it never does.
And then one day we wake up and find ourselves in a sea of confusion, pain, sadness and loss of hope. Because we have allowed the sorrow to stay buried.
And then sometimes we realise that anger is a more powerful and energising emotion than sadness, depression and hopelessness. And so we think that we are justified in our anger. We are allowed our righteous indignation and we should be allowed to vent our anger, right? Well, it’s a yes and a no because whilst we are completely entitled to feel our anger and it is infinitely better to connect with the long-lost grief, it doesn’t really serve us when it comes to finding peace, letting go, getting on with our lives and ultimately finding our way out of depression.
No matter how much we express our anger, get revenge or bring our perpetrators to justice (if that is even possible), it almost never creates true healing. And that is because it is only when we have truly learned to forgive and let those who have harmed us go that we are free to pursue a life of happiness, joy, peace and ultimately….freedom. When are in our anger, or any negative emotion for that matter, we are not free. We are in fact being controlled, our bodies are excreting and experiencing chemicals that are extremely harmful to our physical and emotional wellbeing. We are also still being “controlled” by the people who harmed us even though they may have long ago left this life.
Dr. Wayne Dyer would speak about his own experience of finding himself at his father’s grave at the age of 35, after having never met him at all but hating him his whole life. He used to have dreams that he would find his father and he would have physical fights with him before waking up in a cold sweat, heart beating and anger coursing through his veins. He specifically and very clearly ascribed the forgiveness of his father at the gravesite that he found ten years after his father had died, as the turning point that led directly to the publishing of his first book Your Erroneous Zones in 1976 which became a bestseller and eventually catapulted him to fame and allowed him to become the man who affected millions of people’s lives with his heartfelt and wise books, talks and teachings. What if he had just raged at his father that night – as he did – and had stormed off in his righteous and completely justified anger? What might have become of and what might of become of me a full 40 years later if I had not come across his teachings at just the right time?
Forgiveness is an act of kindness. Towards yourself and towards all those who will be healed and touched by you as you come fully into your own personal power, free from hate, free from resentment and free from the prison of your past.
The world needs you: the healed you, the happy you, the joyful you, the funny you and the you that you were always meant to be. We are looking forward to meeting you.