Based in Los Angeles, Jeff is a self-wellness writer and editor. His content focuses on mental and spiritual health that draws from his education in psychology and theology. He’s a lifelong martial artist and practices Japanese and Hawaiian healing arts.

The Poison of Unforgiveness

This morning, I was livid.

And justly so. At least most would come to justify my fire I wished one other person to feel. But not only feel, understand. I wanted them to feel the burn, see the wrong of their ways, and then understand why they shouldn’t have acted this way towards me to begin with.

Our live exchange is where it began. I confronted this person, asking why they were acting so short towards me. It was pure passive aggression on their part and it was annoying, adolescent, and downright infuriating. ALL SYSTEMS GO. There was no immediate resolve, naturally, as the circumstance was time sensitive and I had to leave. But later I would begin to type an email, nay, a manifesto that encapsulated all the ways in which this person was WRONG; leaving the natural inference that I was RIGHT.

This is that part in the film where the villain gets outed. He or she finally gets whats coming to them and we savor it. We love this moment because we’ve seen what the hero has been through (it was in the montages). The credits roll and our hero won. As to  how they “won” varies, but we walk out feeling cathartically justified/satisfied on their behalf.

But lo, this is not what occurred.

With every word I crafted, my teeth grew longer and sharper. I felt my whole body hunched over, seething with pain that felt like pleasure. The anger had bled from my emotional self to the physical self; my muscles tightened, my stomach churned, and I kept swallowing. It’s when it spilled over to my spiritual self that a sudden spec of light revealed itself. The light began to spell different expressions. Expressions like “be still”, “let it go”, “yield”, and finally, “poison”.


Perhaps you heard the saying, “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and hoping they’ll choke.” I was taking swigs of it.

I hit CRTL-A (select all) and deleted the two venomous paragraphs. Sudden replenishment returned. My vitals back to normal. My peaceful homeostasis finally reset when I decided to act out of kindness.

I texted said person and asked if there was anything I could do for them today. With some delay, they did respond, and had kindly refused the offer.

I was ready to push back, take complete control, and presumably produce an outcome where I was right and just. Because that’s what I want on my tombstone: “He knew how to serve up anger because he was just and right, like, all the time.” No thank you. I’d rather have something like, “He never stopped learning how to love better” -- of course shortened and more eloquent, but you get the idea.

So, we only have control over how we respond to shitty situations. When someone projects their own frustration, anger, rage, doubt, or fear on you just move out of the way. It’s its own trap. Anger begets anger, so don’t be begotten by it. In turn, kindness can beget kindness, so let’s aim to practice the latter.

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