The Irish philosopher and poet John O’Donohue writes in Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong (1998,)
Forgiveness is one of the really difficult things in life. The logic of receiving hurt seems to run in the direction of never forgetting either the hurt or the hurter. When you forgive, some deeper, divine generosity takes over. When you can forgive, then you are free. When you cannot forgive, you are a prisoner of the hurt done to you. If you are really disappointed in someone and you become embittered, you become incarcerated inside that feeling. Only the grace of forgiveness can break the straight logic of hurt and embitterment. It gives you a way out, because it places the conflict on a completely different level. In a strange way, it keeps the whole conflict human. You begin to see and understand the conditions, circumstances, or weakness that made the other person act as they did.
Forgiveness begins with recognizing that the pain wrought upon you by someone else stems from her own deep suffering.
In other words, forgiveness is opening up to the insight that, while you are the victim of another who has caused you some suffering, she herself is also a victim of suffering. A set of circumstances—often beyond your understanding—have influenced her to perpetuate the hurt upon you.
When you adopt this enlightened state, you’re not condoning or justifying aggression, abuse, or violence. Instead, you’re responding with such kindness as to equip you with a substantial emotional breakthrough towards giving up resentment, harsh judgment, and revenge against the person who caused hurt.
Responding with the understanding that suffering stems from suffering can progressively offer you emotional freedom from the second-order suffering that comes from replaying that hurt repeatedly.
Idea for Impact: Forgiveness is for you—not for anyone else. Append your grievance story to remind youself of the heroic choice of realizing that forgiveness was hard—but you found a way to forgive anyway. Holding onto the anger and resentment will, then, no longer carry the same weight on you.