Many health experts claim that we need to embrace forgiveness if we want to let go of anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge after someone we care about has hurt us.
Phooey! We don’t have to forgive them at all. Our peace of mind isn’t about forgiving others. It’s about seeing how, in our emotional reactions to the behaviors of others, we’re likely to be replaying our own unresolved issues and stumbling unnecessarily into suffering.
A party to this psychological jabber, the highly regarded Mayo Clinic, a medical institute known for its research and education on health matters, has on its website a misleading article written by its own staff, titled “Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness,” that reads in part:
Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance — but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy.
This shallow advice says that letting go of grudges and bitterness depends on forgiveness. Forgiveness is sometimes appropriate, of course, especially when we have been gravely victimized. Yet as a remedy for conflict, it can easily be misused and misunderstood. To understand the bogus nature of the Mayo Clinic’s advice, let’s take a close look at each of the three examples from the institute’s posting. [Read more…]