One day a university professor, holding a bottle of water, asked his students how much they thought a bottle of water he was holding weighs.
“500 grams!” shouted one student.
Another from the back shouted “600 grams!”
The professor looked at them and said: “Until we weigh the bottle we wouldn’t know.” And then he said, “Imagine I hold this bottle for a few minutes. What do you think will happen?”
One of the students shouted: “Nothing!”
He said, “What if I hold it for a bit longer? Let’s say I hold this bottle for a few hours.”
They said, “Well, your arm will start to hurt.”
And he said, “What if I held this bottle for 24 hours?”
Ad one of the students said, “Your arm would be paralysed to an extreme pain.”
The professor then said, “Notice that the weight of the bottle did not change during that time at all. The only thing that changed was how long you were holding it.”
And his lesson to the students from this situation was that this bottle represents our challenges, problems or worries, our anxieties about uncertainty. That the longer that we hold them, the more pain they can do to us.
One of the most moving and powerful quotes I have ever heard of is from Nelson Mandela where he said: “When I was walking out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom. I knew that if I didn’t leave behind my bitterness and hatred, I would still be in prison.”
We pollute our consciousness when we allow envy and anger to enter the inner cores of our minds bringing in negativity, injecting anxiety and uncertainty into the way we think. And that is why Mohandas Gandhi said, “I will never let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
But often we see that it is our own very shoes that are causing the dirt. Forgiveness, letting go and the ability to rise above the challenges that have been caused by others in our life is such an important ability we need to because to accept apologies that we never received.
I believe that you cannot fix yourself by breaking someone else.
It is like what Buddha said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. When you recognize that actually by holding any negative feelings towards another individual simply only harms the way you think, that is when you will truly be able to forgive, move on and let go.
You will realize that that internal healing is what lets you take care of the external circumstances. This is not easy at all because the person who has been caused pain sometimes to extreme lengths, our hearts have been broken or our trust has been misused.
Sometimes, we have been exploited, our loyalty has been tested and that is why forgiveness does not excuse the behaviour from negatively affecting us. Our ego wants us to put others in their place but we should try to put ourselves in their place.