During C19, the various restriction and lockdowns I have seen more and more cases of conflict, argument and ruptured or severed relationships. The relationships have been both personal and professions. It is as though some people are running out of that magic glue that stick families, friends and communities together. For many of us tolerance is in short supply and we feel at the end of our fuse.
This week someone asked “This Covid is driving me mad, I feel so frustrated, how can I stop feeling so angry about everything and everybody”. I had a think and suggested that to overcome the negative feelings that they were hold about others, and also hold about them self needed forgiveness. The response was rolled eyes a tut and “you always say that but, how do you do it?” My response was…
…Forgiveness is the application of love over retribution.
Retribution is the punishment that we inflict, or would like to inflict, on another person for what we see as their wrong doing. This wrong doing we may believe is against us or against other people that we may identify with or see as vulnerable and needing our support.
It can sound very hippy to talk about love. Perhaps it is easier to think about the two simple and fundamental forces of nature. They are attraction and repulsion. Things are either drawn together or they are pushed apart. At a psychological and emotional level these are simply love, the energy that pulls us together and hate, the energy that pushes us apart.
When we exercise love we have cooperation and tolerance. We work with each other to get things right and resolve our problems. When we exercise hate we find reasons not to cooperate with each other and we become intolerant. We are not prepared to work with the other person or people to find solutions. In short love creates peace and harmony and hate creates strife and disharmony.
In both love and hate there is a spectrum of feeling from mild to severe. We may simply like someone and fee that they are a nice person through to we might feel passionately and emotionally connected with acts of love. Or, we may simply dislike someone and avoid their company through to active feelings of revulsion, anger and even acts of violence or hurt towards that person. In both cases of love and hate the deep feelings may be real or virtual. It is easier imagining killing someone than actually doing it. Though it is probably nicer to make love that just imagine it.
In the Buddhist Cannon the philosophy is that thoughts come before things. That as a thought is the precursor of an action then, to think of feel something is no different to doing it. In quantum physics, the Intention Experiment, suggests that our feelings towards other can affect them directly which would make sense of prayer and the consistent belief that forgiveness is good for both the object of the forgiveness and the forgiver.
The nature of emotion is that once someone is lodged in our emotional mind we will use our natural ability rumination to feed and build our feelings. It properly doesn’t surprise you that your emotional memory is visual. It the case of love you can picture the person that you care about and can imagine all the good things that you could be doing together. In hatred you can visualise the person that hate and can imagine, or replay all the bad things that they have done. You may even fantasise on how you would meter out the punishment that you feel that they deserve.
In neuropsychology we know that positive feelings lead to the excretion of positive endorphins in the brain and negative feeling to negative stress related endorphins.
In short we know that those of us who can let go and forgive with a dollop of goodwill and love are getter positive brains and bodies are likely to live longer and suffer less illness. Those who hold negative feelings and hatred end up with negative brains have shorter and sicker lives. There will always be the story of the miserable old bugger who live to be a hundred and used their negative hatred to keep going, “he stayed alive just to spite his enemies”, that sort of thing. Though, overall happy feelings equal happy brain, eg=qualms happy body and happy life.
When looking at who you might like to forgive right now there will be people who recently pressed your button. If you look a little deeper you might need to go back to your early years to clean out your negative cupboard in your head. This is what we call ‘Step One’ and is my resource for this episode.
For give who you can and avoid holding negative emotion. IN the end the only person that it damages is you.