In his book Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela wrote, ‘As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison'.
It was only by letting go his anger that he was able to move on with his life in a truly powerful, purposeful and dignified way and lead South Africa in writing a new chapter of history.
It would have been understandable if Mandela had left prison an angry man, after 27 years imprisonment. Many people who have suffered far less injustice than Mandela walk through life held hostage to their anger, unwilling to let it go. But at what cost? As ‘unfair' as it may seem, holding on to your anger hurts you far more than anyone else. Indeed, anger (whether a grudge or a deeply held hatred toward someone) isn't good for you. Not good for your heart, not for your health, not for your relationships and certainly not for your happiness.
While it may not feel like it, forgiving someone for a wrong isn't about them — it's about you. Forgiveness is not about letting someone off the hook; it's about letting yourself off. Martin Luther King Jr. put it so beautifully when he wrote that ‘Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude. Forgiveness is not just a compassionate attitude towards others; it's a more compassionate attitude towards yourself'.