'I don't know why my mind is so upset these days'. Many people respond thus when asked about their well-being. They get angry with minor issues. They feel wounded in their hearts. Though they do feign a laugh occasionally, but harbor burning volcanoes of anger and resentment within. Renowned psychologist Maurice Fredman observes that these symptoms are indications of some unhealed wounds of unforgiveness in the depths of their psyches. These hurts frequently manifest as pains, anxiety, tension, and tears.
Dr J.D. Frank, a noted psychologist, has experimented extensively on this subject. He has published the conclusions of his experiments in the book titled, 'Hidden mind-A forgotten Chapter of Our Life'. He mentions that there is a sort of knot (wound) in the mind due to someone's bad behavior, which we cannot forgive and forget. Incidents of negligence, scorn or insults by others, bring pain to our hearts. This sometimes burst out as anger, and at other times, the person suffers by feelings of helplessness and resentment. This pain and suffering breaks the mind into pieces.
An American teacher once told her students to make a list of people whom they hate. Each of the students made a list of 2, 9, 12, 5, or so names. The teacher then asked them to purchase a potato from the market for each of the names in their list. Accordingly, the students purchased their share of potatoes from the market. The teacher then asked them to boil their potatoes and keep them in a plastic bag. She continued saying that they should carry this bag around with them all the time in the day, and place it beside their pillow while sleeping. They should do this every one or two days for at least one week. By the third day, the potatoes had started rotting and giving off a foul smell. By the fourth day, the students approached their teacher saying that the bags were too unbearable to keep with them. Upon this, the teacher replied, 'Do you see it now? The people whom you hate are not affected by your hate. You carry it with you all the time and everywhere you go. The only person your negative feelings affect are yourself. Forgive them and be free once more'.
Japanese physician K. Kurokava explains that disturbances of the mind gradually manifest as ailments of the body. His research shows that as the mental tensions increase and deepen, they take the form of physical maladies. Recent findings of Kurokava and his associate Yoshiyuki Kago, reveal that people who entertain and nourish negative traits like deception, jealousy, hatred, revenge, etc., are prone to high blood pressure, hypertension, and the resultant diseases of the heart and kidneys. Negative feelings not only fill the mind with suffering and restlessness, but also the body gets burned out.
Research of Kurakova and Yoshiyuki shows that those who readily forgive are less prone to diseases related to blood pressure. This means that, if we follow the maxim of 'forgive and forget', we can quantatively change our lives for the better. If we could forgive the malicious behavior of others, we can fill our lives with peace and happiness. Forgiveness is a sign of greatness and magnanimity. Great are those who forgive. Those who create disturbances and exhibit bad behavior, are small and will remain small.
Scientific research shows that forgiveness not only reveals our greatness, but also positively affects our health. Research findings mention that, if by chance, a forgiving person gets hypertension related diseases, these can be easily controlled, and that forgiving and not forgiving is directly related to high blood pressure. That means, if you have a forgiving nature, you will be rarely prone to high blood pressure.
How do you forgive? This is a difficult and unanswered question. If a rational person wants to forgive anybody's behavior, the memories of hurt feelings make it nearly impossible to do so. Modern psychologists are familiar with this mental state, and they have devised techniques which may be helpful in coming out of such mental grooves.
First step in this sequence is 'Be honest towards yourself'. Do not denigrate the person whom you are not able to forgive. Maybe, he is not as guilty as you make him out to be. No need to avoid him. Be neutral, be free from prejudices, and think objectively. In this process of objective observation, whatever feelings come in your consciousness, let them come out naturally. Slowly, your mind will get unburdened of these feelings of hurt.
Second step in this self-cleansing process is strange, but effective. Take a piece of paper and write down all the conflicting feelings about the concerned person. Do it not once, but many times. Psychologists call it mental cleansing. The mind will slowly get lighter. There is another method of writing on paper. According to this, write on the paper that you have forgiven a particular person. Write it not once, but many times. Thus, the anger will subside, and after some time, you will feel better.
Third step is positive analysis. Do not think just about your own self. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Possibly, your own reaction could be wrong. Understanding the other person's point of view makes self-analysis easier. The aim is to understand that others are not wrong to the extent you believe them to be―may be you are overreacting. Then they can be easily forgiven, and the mind be easily calmed.
To conclude, given below is what G. Jampolsky, the eminent psychotherapist, in his article titled 'Peace', has said about the art of forgiveness:
"In order to experience peace instead of conflict it is necessary to shift our perception. Instead of seeing others as attacking us, we need to see them as fearful. We are always expressing either love, or fear. Fear is really a call for help and therefore a request for love. It is apparent then, that to experience peace we must recognize that we do have a choice in determining what we perceive. Our misconception can only be undone NOW, and this is possible only through the process of letting go whatever we think other people may have done to us, or whatever we may think we did to them. Through this process of selective forgetting we are free to embrace a present without the encumbrances of re-enacting our past misconceptions. As inner peace is recognized as our single goal, forgiveness becomes our single function. When we accept both our function and goal, we also find that listening to our inner intuitive voice, as the source for direction becomes our only guide to fulfillment. We are released as we release others from the prison of our distorted and illusory perception, and join with them in the unity of love."