The Power of Forgiveness in a Life with Chronic Pain
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Self-pity and resentment are parasites that live on a life that is suffering with chronic pain. Any of us who have daily pain know this and know they both have a strong voice that often whispers into our ears. They both whisper loudly with a hissing breath and say provocative things like, “Why you?” and “Who do they think they are?” as well as “Why don’t you give them a piece of your mind.” At other times those same resentful feelings are suppressed by us but they chatter on, deep within ourselves. Driven down, they can fester and become resentment, anger and quite frankly, become quite ugly. Like any parasite, they draw their sustenance from the host and live on, sucking the life out of us.
I know it’s difficult for others who live healthy, “normal” lives to understand this way of life. We have often talked about that on this blog and probably will do so many times in the future. I believe it is the constancy of the daily pain and suffering that wears one down over time; like a little creature with a hammer, pounding and pounding. You go to sleep and that gremlin is there; you wake up, and there he is, sitting on your chest ready to go to work again for yet another day. Hammer in hand, the day begins and on and on it goes.
When an individual goes through a crisis with their health such as being in an accident or being struck by the need for surgery or even being diagnosed with cancer; there is a beginning and an end. Be it good or bad, there is an outcome. When you live with chronic pain for years, there is no end. I bear witness, as a nurse and as a patient; this creates a personality change in many individuals. Perhaps, change is not the correct word. Maybe we just become more of what we always have been. That doesn’t mean we can’t change. I believe it’s very important for us to take an honest look at ourselves as often as possible and take check of those perilous feelings and thoughts that can eat away at our joy, our relationships and eventually, our health.
If you are one who suffers self-pity and most of us do from time to time; or if you are someone who holds onto resentments, this life can become even grimmer than it already is. I know from firsthand experience this is difficult because we are constantly running into life in the form of our fellow humans who don’t have a clue. We are constantly assaulted by indifference, impatience and ignorance. How can individuals understand what they have not experienced? There are many who have dealt with the vagaries of life for themselves or in the life of a family member; there are some who have a natural empathy toward those who are suffering, then there are some who are just plain fools. Those in that last category will never have a clue. Don’t resent them; pity them. What must it be like to live within their minds? What minds?
Whether you are facing fools or philosophers, empathy or indifference, the bottom line is that your attitude is up to you. If you find yourself saying, far too often, “Why don’t they…” well, maybe you’re expecting too much. Our demands and unreal expectations can seriously wear on our minds, our joy and eventually, our health. This is a good time to use the power of forgiveness.
There are many ways to express forgiveness. We hear about “taking the high road.” We are taught when we are young it is better to give than to receive. Whatever your religious affiliation, you were taught the power in forgiveness. Instead of seeking understanding for ourselves, I would challenge you to give it to others without expectations for reward or gratitude. Sometimes when I run into this attitude from others, I think of myself as one who has taken a journey. I have seen and experienced things which some do not understand and may never understand. I am only responsible for my own journey, my own destination and the way I travel. I choose my attitude. Is it easy? No, but it’s not really that difficult, either. You just have to close your mind to those evil little voices of resentment and self-pity and put them in their place which is out of there.
I know many individuals who relive resentments; times they were slighted and keep them like treasures in a box, tucked close to their chest in a hugging motion. Open that box. Let that old bitterness, anger and poison out of the box. Let it go. Forgive and move on. If you don’t, the contents of that box will eat away at your well-being. It will truly suck the oxygen out of your life. Don’t we, of all people, know the value of life? Why would we want to hurt ourselves and those who are close to us and care about us by holding onto something which is poisonous? I don’t know, but it’s done everyday. It’s one of life’s greatest tragedies.
There are many methods that work depending on your personality. I had a friend who used to write down all of her resentments and causes of irritation then tear them up and bury them in her garden and allow them to mulch away. Others have learned the power in faith. If you are a person of faith, perhaps you just need to let go and give it over to God. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be a “patsy,” a softie or a fool. It simply means you don’t hold anger toward that individual any longer. You don’t have to be their best friend. If you find them hurtful, hateful and damaging, you don’t even have to have a relationship with them any longer. Just be careful because many individuals are running around with the spirit of lost relationships still alive in their resentful hearts and minds. Let it go, let it go, let it go.
Video: The power of forgiveness | Lee Vu | TEDxSaxionUniversity
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