"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." ~Mahatma Ghandi~
When I read this quote, I become aware of my weakness. I often am satisfied that I have done the right thing, been the bigger person and extended forgiveness. What I've sometimes come to realize is that I've offered the words, but withheld the absolution. I've said that I've forgiven, but kept the grudge.
"Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die." ~Oprah Winfrey~
Our grudges hurt us more than they hurt the other person. We are the one experiencing the feelings that a grudge brings with it. We are trapped in the past, wondering how the person who caused us this pain can go happily on their way. Well, they believed you when you said you forgave them. Hanging on to old hurts won't change anything. You can't drag someone else back into the past with you. At some point you have to decide to get over it and really mean it. Move on. I once had a grudge that I was having a problem letting go of. I wanted to maintain and continue my relationship with the other person because I held him in high esteem. I thought that we should keep re-approaching the offense so that we could put it behind us. It just made matters worse. I finally realized that I wanted him to see and feel my experience of our problem the way I did. I was asking for the impossible. Each person can really only have their own experience. They are looking out through their own lens and can never really feel our pain or disappointment exactly the way we felt it. If we insist on that before we move on, we'll never go anywhere with that person and the relationship will be lost. At work or at home, it is never productive to hold a grudge. If you can't forgive, you lose something. Withholding forgiveness gains nothing. You don't come out on top, you don't teach the other person a lesson. You lose a relationship and you may loose the esteem of anyone who witnesses the whole scenario. If you want to forgive and are having a hard time, challenge the negative thoughts and feelings as they come up. Focus on the outcome you would like to have and do whatever helps you leave that grudge behind you.