Something interesting happens when we feel that someone has done us wrong and we choose to hold on to a grudge because of it. I’m not saying it’s good. In fact, it isn’t, but the reaction, and the story we tell ourselves, is interesting. Here’s what usually happens:
Someone does you a wrong. It doesn’t really matter what happens, but for some reason you feel slighted and are right fully angry. That anger gives you a lot of energy. You feel in the right, and you hold on to that anger and resentment. You don’t want to seem like a pushover. So you hold on to the anger and pain. You think negative thoughts and in your mind, you’re the strong one. You’re the one hurling all these angry thoughts and feelings at the other person, the one who’s done you wrong.
In reality, the only one you’re hurting with all this anger and resentment is you. And a big reason why is because you ignore forgiveness and instead hold on to all that anger and resentment. The other person on the other hand, has moved on and is living his or her life happily.
And then there’s the opposite scenario. You’re again the “victim” of wrong doing. But this time you nobly decide to forgive the other person. You feel benevolent and righteous. You’re still angry about what happened, but decide to be “the better person”, and forgive… figuring that the universe, karma, or even God will reward you for your selfless forgiveness. But in truth it’s really isn’t about forgiveness and it certainly wasn’t a selfless act on your part. Instead you’re expecting something in return for your good behavior.
Both choosing not to practice forgiveness, and granting false forgiveness can be dangerous paths to walk and they don’t really benefit you either. Both give you a false sense of power and entitlement. In one case you’re holding on to anger and pain, using it a shield, and in the other case you’re fishing for recognition and praise. Both will harm you in the long run. They keep you from practicing true forgiveness that helps you move on. The end goal with true forgiveness is to get to a point where you can get past the pain and anger and let happiness and joy back into your life. Both ignoring forgiveness and false forgiveness will keep you from reaching that point.