Not long ago, I would walk into a room and negative feelings would burst into my heart – “That guy took my Job!” “That person insulted me.” “That person disrespected me!” “That person rejected my offering to teach!” I walked in calm – and walked out with sour feelings.
Certain things helped me to change my attitude. Now, when I walk into a room I feel neutral. I am still trying to build my attitude to feel positive to even the people who hurt me. It takes time. I have to take one step at a time.
When hate, animosity and grudges drives one’s life – their life is full of bad feelings and darkness. G-d wants people to live a life of happiness and light through people following the Torah’s pleasant and peaceful ways.
Choose Happiness over Being Right
I used to hold grudges against people – I would keep a mental scorecard of the bad people did until I heard something that the Tzemach Tzedek said. He mentioned that Children are different from adults – adults tend to hold grudges and bad feelings towards others. Children forgive and forget. One minute they are angry with someone the next minute they are best friends. The Tzemach Tzedek remarks the difference between children and adults is that adults would rather be right than happy in their personal relations – while a child would rather be happy than to be right.
Stand Strong but Forgive
I don’t condone that a person should be like a wet rag or a carpet that everyone tramples. One must stand up for their values and not let others do bad to them. If a person is an unrepentant bad doer – you don’t have to forgive. I am advocating that one releases negative feelings for their own sake and sanity. We gain little by hatred of our fellow Jew. Actually the Torah says “You shall love your fellow like yourself” – so it is forbidden to hate a fellow Jew in your heart.
Hear No Evil – Speak No Evil
The question is how can we let go of these – grudges and animosity for others. One way is to not speak badly of others. If we refrain from speaking and hearing bad (regardless of it being true) about our fellow Jew – we will be able to overcome a great part of the negative feelings for others.
Understanding People – recognizing We are all Human
People are people. We all make mistakes. Say a strong word that you regret two minutes later. Eat some grapes from at the supermarket. Take someone’s parking space. Or it could be jealousy – why does he have what I don’t? OK. It is not right – but it happens. You say – What does G-d want from me? I make mistakes, I am only human.
If we can accept our failures – can’t we understand other people’s misdeeds toward us as well?
Clarifying the bad to the perpetrator
We fall at times into the waves of life. We lower our guard in action, speech and thought. It’s true – we can avoid these faults, but our ego and desires work to pull us down, while our soul brings us up.
We have three choices – ignore the improper deed, thought or action – and chalk up our errors to human frailty or think everybody does it; Justify our action and make it the standard of action; or Admit the fault and ask for forgiveness and make restitution or a new resolution to improve to G-d and man.
If one asks for forgiveness, normally that should quell bad feelings. If they ignore the bad done that is what hurts. The Torah’s remedy is to go up to the person who did hurt you privately and ask gently “You did this and this. Can you please explain why you did that.” Getting the feelings out in the open – for them to be discussed and dealt with – also helps to calm animosity. People can stay with grudges towards another person for many years – and the other person may not even know that he or she hurt the victim. When you explain you were hurt – they will probably apologize or at least tell their part of the story.
Loss to the Haters of the World / Choosing Life over Hatred
One of the Torah’s explanations of Anti-semitism is that people want to be free from morality. The Jews represent morality of G-d and the Torah. So it is easier to disrespect Jews – because they represent G-d – than to come to terms that they must redress their ways to follow the 7 laws of the Torah for gentiles or 613 laws for Jews. If they did follow Torah they would ultimately live a happier life.
A happier existence is in our own hands. Our inner animosity is not other people’s fault. We choose to hate. We choose to love. We can choose life over hatred. Why not start today?