Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Revenge or Forgiveness
"The only people with whom you should try to get even with are those who have helped you." -John E. Southard
There you are, seven o'clock in the morning driving down the freeway to work. The traffic is thick with cars but bearable at this point. The next interchange comes and goes as you pass under the bridge. But here you are in the right hand lane and merging traffic is coming down the on-ramp.
You know the rules-of-the-road and those cars are supposed to yield to you. Yet that one guy in the fancy sports car has other plans. He darts across what is known as "the gore" and cuts in front of you. With every ounce of restraint, you keep from hand signaling your disapproval.
The problem becomes that now you are fixated on getting even with the perpetrator. Somehow you are going to find a way to get in front and cut him off; to teach him a driving lesson of course. The rest of your drive to work is miserable and filled with your anger. It even spills into the rest of your day at work.
It happens this way and in many different ways. We use our energy to get back at people whom we've decided did us wrong. The offense could have been real or perceived, but either way your mind is telling you to get back at them. As humans, we have a passion for revenge that is strong and many times it is overwhelming.
Our intuition regarding revenge can be twisted, conflicted, juvenile and many times dangerous. Revenge itself is a primitive response to anger, injury, or humiliation. In many ways, it is a misguided attempt to transform shame into pride.
To seek revenge reduces you to your worst self. It places you on the same level with those spiteful people we claim to abhor. Additionally, there are studies that have shown revenge increases stress and impairs health and immunity. In essence, revenge can do more harm to ourselves than what the perceived slight caused.
Forgiveness is the greater act, the better choice in your life. Note that I said in "your life." The other person is unaware most of the time that they even inflicted pain upon you. No, forgiveness is about you and your ability to move on from the event.
The person in the other car may not understand that their actions are rude and potentially dangerous to others. We on the other hadn can not pretend to understand that we know what is going through the other person's mind. We can only understand and control ourselves. How we react and carry on from it is much more important.
So next time you get cut off in traffic, let it go and don't let it ruin your day. I understand and admit there are much worse things in life. There are examples of pain and hurt much, much larger than a perceived traffic offense. Those events will take more effort and work to get past. But the end result is to create forgiveness; forgive yourself and move on.
Your life is so much more than one of seeking revenge. Your life is about creating a great life and not being held back by the actions of others. Forgive and move on...and stay inspired my friends.