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Forgiveness or Revenge?

By on January 29, 2012

“When we hate our enemy we become the very thing we hate!“

I knew I was in trouble when anger and rage woke me up at 3AM triggered by thoughts of seriously hurting a couple of people, both co-workers at the time.  When I accepted the position, I had no idea that these two people had a boat- load of personal issues they all but flaunted.  Talk about a hostile work environment! All my religious teaching didn’t save me from wanting to inflict pain even if that meant being hauled off to jail afterwards. Next step: resent the hell out of them!

According to Wikipedia, Resentment is the experience of a negative emotion (anger or hatred) felt as a result of a real or imagined wrong done.  While it is perfectly natural to feel negative emotions after someone has hurt or wronged us, resentment cuts deeper than mere irritability, annoyance and even anger.  But here’s the rub. Because of the consequences they carry, resentful feelings are dangerous to live with and need to be dealt with. They are toxic and corroding and have the real potential of infecting all future relationships. One of the immediate consequences is that inadvertently our offenders take up residence in our head! It’s like taking poison and waiting on the other person to croak. Not good.

“To err is human, to forgive is…OUT OF THE QUESTION.”

The good news is that our offenders can and should be evicted from our heads.  But here’s another rub. That eviction process starts with a willingness to forgive. Yes, forgive! It appears unreasonable and absurd to some, essentially because it is natural for us to want to avenge ourselves when we have been wronged.  Forgiveness is letting go of the need for revenge and releasing negative thoughts of bitterness and resentment.  It is not giving permission to continue hurtful behaviors; nor is it condoning the behavior in the past or in the future.  Doctor Lynn Ponton, MD proposes that forgiveness can be a gift that we give to ourselves. It’s an opportunity to release pain and begin anew.

Here are some easy steps towards forgiveness:

  • Acknowledge your own inner pain.
  • Express those emotions in non-hurtful ways without yelling or attacking.
  • Protect yourself from further victimization.
  • Try to understand the point of view and motivations of the person to be forgiven; replace anger with compassion.
  • Forgive yourself for your role in the relationship.
  • Decide whether to remain in the relationship.
  • Perform the overt act of forgiveness verbally or in writing.

In the meantime, give yourself an extra pound of love as you recover from the injury.



Victor R. Pond is a Contributor to healthyblackmen.org and Director of Policy, Research and Community Health at GRIOT Circle, a non-profit community based organization located in Brooklyn, NY, that provides psycho-social services to the LGBT elders of African descent (over 50).


  1. Halbert Rand

    December 9, 2012 at 7:54 am

    You’re right when you say, it’s like our offender is taking up residence in our heads. We men have a hard time with this because of the competitiveness and ego that is instill in most of us. Our ego is especially in the way. It tries to protect us and make us feel better, but in reality, it’s the fragile part of our being. Our ego tells to continue to be anger, so we won’t feel less then man and that forgiveness is that of being less. Consciousness of the ego voice constantly telling you to remain resentful is key in beginning the path to forgiveness. Recognizing that that feeling hate and or the voice of resentment is the first step to clearing your mind of it. Yes, it will be awhile before you’re total rid of, because the feeling and voice will pop back into your head a time or two, but as long as continue to recognize it for what it is, it will soon dissipate.

  2. cris

    January 30, 2012 at 9:14 am

    The suggestions you give here are all well and good but when you are the one hurting it’s close to impossible to do any of those things immediately. We are not robots and shouldn’t be expected to behave like one. I hate to bring out the cliche, but if you cut us, will we not bleed??? I have been in this place before and will atempt to protect myself from further victimization, but in the mean time, I realize that for me, time heals all wounds.

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