We all know that breakups can be painful, and that it’s hard to trust and be in love with again. But there are ways to get past the pain. Here is some advice for healing the heartbreak.
Don’t think that revenge solves anything.
Forgiveness is the act of compassionately releasing the desire to punish someone or yourself for an offense. It’s a state of grace, nothing you can force or pretend. There are no short cuts.
Mistakenly, some of my patients, wanting to be “spiritual,” have prematurely tried to forgive after someone emotionally knifes them in the gut. You must first feel anger before you can begin to forgive. I gradually guide patients to the large-heartedness of forgiving injuries either caused by others or self-inflicted.
Revenge is the desire to get even when someone does you wrong. It’s natural to feel angry and to say, “I’m not going to let that **** get away with this.” However, revenge reduces you to your worst self, puts you on the same level with those spiteful people we claim to abhor. Additionally, studies have shown that revenge increases stress and impairs health and immunity.
Sure, if someone hits you with a stick, you have the impulse to hit them back — the basis for war. To thrive personally and as a species, we must resist this predictable lust for revenge, and seek to right wrongs more positively. This doesn’t make you a pushover; you’re just refusing to act in a tediously destructive way antithetical to ever finding peace.
What I’m suggesting is a version of “turn the other cheek,” yet still doing everything to preserve what’s important to you. The hard part, though, is watching someone “get away with something” when there’s nothing you can do about it.
Yes, your wife left you for the yoga instructor. Yes, your colleague sold you out. With situations like this in my life, I take solace in the notion of karma — that sooner or later, what goes around comes around. Also, know that the best revenge is your success, happiness and the triumph of not giving vindictive people any dominion over your peace of mind.
Forgiveness refers to the actor, not the act. Not to the offense, but the woundedness of the offender. This doesn’t mean you’ll run back to your battering spouse because of compassion for the damaged person he or she is. Of course, you want to spare yourself mistreatment.
However, from a distance, you can try to forgive the conscious or unconscious suffering that motivates people. Our desire to transform anger is a summoning of peace, well worth the necessary soul stretching.
Here’s how to forgive someone in three steps. Though they may not be easy, they are much better than letting yourself become consumed by revenge and anger.
1. Identify one person you’re angry with.
Start with someone low on your list, not your rageaholic father. Then you can get a taste of forgiveness quickly. After that, you can proceed to tackle more challenging targets.