I just finished reading You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero, an attempt to take all the wisdom of decades of self-help literature and not only boil them down into one concise source, but an attempt to do so in a language that would be easily accessible to most of us. And I enjoyed it a lot.
I mean, You are a Badass was OK. Certainly not the life-changing experience I might hope it would be, but definitely worth a read.
Forgive or Fester
One chapter from You are a Badass stood out to me as an obvious favorite, so today I’d just like to talk a bit about Chapter 15: Forgive or Fester.
I want to focus on three quotes from the chapter that really drive the point home and talk about each concept a bit:
You are a Badass: The Road to Freedom
“Holding on will not change this fact, it will just keep the negative feelings from the past alive, keep you a prisoner to your pain… The moment you decide to forgive and let your negative feelings melt away, you are on the road to freedom.”
I often think about the concept of slavery. How many things in the world can we become slaves to? Sugar? Money? Sex? Our jobs?
We want to walk around on a day-to-day basis unburdened by anything that’s not our primary focus. How can we live when our mind is preoccupied with things we absolutely don’t want to be thinking about?
But we do it all the time. Because we’re downright slaves to those thoughts. We couldn’t get rid of them if our lives depended on it.
Prisoner of Pain
And holding onto a grudge is just about the worst example of this. If some girl dumped me in high school making me feel like I was the biggest loser on the planet, twenty or thirty years later she might not even remember my name, let alone what actually happened between us. I’m letting her live rent-free in my brain so long as I can’t purge myself of the pain she caused.
But forgiveness is redemption. If you cannot create closure in reality, you can at least create closure emotionally. The moment you forgive, you begin the process of forgetting. Of moving forward with your life. Otherwise their memory is like two powerful hands grabbing your shoulders, preventing you from moving forward. Preventing you from progressing in life and becoming the person you want to be.
Of course you could still progress forward in life despite a grudge here and there. But each one is just the tiniest little thorn in your soul, causing you pain and placing a minuscule barrier preventing you from reaching your potential. Why let anyone in the world do that to you?
You are a Badass: Taking the Poison
“Holding on to resentment is like taking poison and waiting for your enemies to die.”
I can picture myself sitting in my living room, pissed at someone who wronged me. In my confused little noggin, I’m imagining my anger actually having some impact. Like my mean thoughts will somehow seep into their skin and cause them harm. Meanwhile, it’s doing nothing of the sort.
What is the anger doing? It’s making me feel like crap. It’s harming me.
I remember years ago during a holiday in Israel, kids on the street I was walking on were spraying all passersby with silly string. I didn’t really want that crap on me, so a friend of mine and I did an experiment. What if we walk down the street with a facial expression that says, “Spray me and I will literally rip your eyes from your face.”
Well, the good news was it was effective. No one bothered us at all. The bad news: I became legitimately angry. And it felt awful. When you get angry, you can feel it in every inch of your body. It’s like walking around with some dust cloud of negativity. And that anger cloud impacts your mood. You feel ill, and it pushes everyone in your life away from you.
But who feels nothing?
Your boss. Your high school bully. Your ex-girlfriend. They’re all sitting in Tahiti, sipping on Mai Tais on the beach, completely unaware that you exist, let alone that you are directing negative thoughts toward them. All while you’re sitting on your own couch, feeling the pain and frustration of unanswered anger.
Anger and resentment hurt no one but yourself.
You are a Badass: Being Nice to Yourself
“Forgiving isn’t about being nice to them, it’s about being nice to yourself.”
And that really is the conclusion of all of this.
Who doesn’t want peace of mind? Who doesn’t want to go to sleep at night with their mind fresh and clear? Without a care in the world.
When you forgive others, you are giving yourself the perfect gift. You are allowing yourself to be free from the burden of negativity. Free from the burden of oppressive feelings weighing you down, crowding your mind and not letting you rest comfortably.
It really is a fresh and intelligent way to look at the concept of forgiveness. It’s much easier to look at forgiveness as doing something great for the other person. But in actuality, it is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself!
This is something I’ve certainly felt before.
My Annual Tradition
I have an annual tradition. When someone borrows something from me, I can’t help but think of it all the time. I remember it all. And sometimes it weighs me down, especially when someone routinely forgets to return what’s mine, or clearly puts it out of their mind entirely. Obviously if they’ve forgotten, or if they, for example, can’t return money to me and are embarrassed to explain, then my holding a grudge will have no impact on them, positive or negative. But that grudge will consume me.
So what do I do? Every year I forgive and forget. I put the debt behind me forever. And it is one of the most invigorating feelings I know.
And yes, it might sound a little selfish. You forgive them because you gain something. But sometimes you have to be a little selfish. Sometimes you have to put yourself first to get ahead in life. But ultimately it’s a win-win. They get forgiveness, you get peace of mind. The world is officially a better place!
Forgive someone today, since it will make tomorrow that much brighter.Forgive someone today, since it will make tomorrow that much brighter. Click To Tweet