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The Toxicity of Holding Grudges: How Forgiveness Can Set You Free from Depression


Gary Zukav, in his book The Seat of the Soul, noted that, "an authentically empowered person forgives. Forgiveness is not a moral issue. It is an energy dynamic. Forgiveness means you do not carry the baggage of an experience."


Two of the essential concepts that have helped me in my spiritual journey are: the kingdom of heaven is within and the power of forgiveness.


When I was going through my "dark night of the soul" and feeling down and out, as well as experiencing tremendous guilt for what I thought I had done to my life, the forces of the universe led me to Unity. I had no interest in anything that smacked of religion or spirituality, and had not set foot inside a spiritual community for over 15 years. Yet there I was, sitting in the back of that Unity auditorium, listening to a message on forgiveness.


I learned that forgiveness is never about the other person. As the Buddha noted, "Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace."


I caught a portion of a radio program in which the guest pointed out that up to 25 percent of Americans feel continually depressed over a long period. He shared that there's something much deadlier than the usual pressures of day-to-day life or even a chemical imbalance. He noted that, based on his many years of helping people who suffer from depression, several of them are victims of their resentful thoughts.


It is understandable why every major spiritual tradition puts so much emphasis on forgiveness, because withholding forgiveness does not work the way we intend it to. The person we direct our hostility toward may suffer or be impacted somehow. But no one suffers like the one casting out the negative energy. To harbor resentment toward another person, a past event, or an institution is like picking up a burning coal to throw it at someone else. The coal sticks like molasses to the person, and they're the ones who end up with burned flesh.


After his divorce, there was a man who, for over 12 years, held deep resentment toward his ex-wife. Eventually, he discovered she wasn't alive for nearly 10 of those 12 years. As Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity, noted, "If we try to free ourselves while holding another in bondage with condemning thoughts, we cannot demonstrate our freedom." This is a reminder that no one suffers like the one casting blame and hostile thoughts toward the so-called other.


If you need to forgive someone, something, or even yourself, here are steps you can follow:


1. Be aware of your need to forgive

2. Be willing to forgive

3. Ask Spirit for help and guidance

4. Be willing to face and feel your feelings

5. Own your feelings without blaming or judging anyone else

6. Surrender the results to Spirit

7. Repeat steps 2-6 as often as necessary

8. Be patient with yourself


When we practice forgiveness, we clear the energy field around us so that we can catch the divine ideas that Spirit has in store for us and our world. That is the power of forgiveness.


Peace and Blessings,

James

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