–Minus the Other, Focus on You First–
You’re riding your bike, minding the traffic and out of no where, a car door opens and you flip over the door. The person who opened the door gets out to help you but your first response is shock and anger and you ignore the help. You choose to hold a grudge and going forward, you hate cars and wish for revenge on everyone that drives. Before driving, the driver had just been accused and blamed by their partner for their marital problems and was driving in a rageful state.
What does our world look like when running on the fuel of unforgiveness?
Neuroscience recognizes the link between emotional response to life’s issues and how they create disease or wellness in our minds and bodies. Everyone is benefited when forgiveness appears with loving kindness; when we offer that which we need. But how do we get there? Why do we cause harm knowingly or unknowingly to others? How far back do we look to find the source of this wrong-doing that compels us to seek revenge in current life situations?
Often, when we consider forgiving someone we are filled with strong emotion and seek to either reconcile ASAP so we feel better or expect the other person to make the first move. We have this sense that forgiveness only requires saying I’m sorry and that will return everything back to harmony: 1+1. What if within us there’s a deeper cause to the suffering? What if we minus that person from the equation for a moment and the journey to all forgiveness begins with us? 2–1=1.
In the 12-steps of recovery, making amends is the 9th step. The other steps lead up to this and require deep self-study before the process of forgiveness with self and others takes place. Self-study is known as Svadhyaya in the yoga sutras of Patanjali and develops in a large part by meditation practice. On the upcoming Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur, a pulling away from usual sensory experience is practiced in order to self-reflect and seek atonement, primarily with G-d.
Medical research shows that when anger and resentment are stored in the body, diseases like cancer and ailments like obesity have space to take over. The pent up emotions may come out sideways and harm ourselves and our relationships at home, work, and life. The challenge is that we can even become attached to this way of being and declare that our identity. When we forgive, our bodies actually heal not just on an emotional level, but in profound ways within our brain chemistry and overall health of our body.