The Power of Unforgiveness


By: Christine Hammond, MS, IMH

College towns are hard to get around just on foot because of the distance between classes and dorms, so as a college student, I took up bike riding.  One day while riding in the street, granted I was riding in the opposite direction of traffic which is strangely prophetic of my college years, my wheel got caught in an old railroad track causing my bike to twist and overturn.  As my head was falling to the ground, I looked up to see a car headed straight for me.  Suddenly, my life literally flashed before my eyes with all of its highs and lows.  Thankfully the car stopped just before it reached my head and I suffered only a sprained ankle and a fractured arm.


Take a moment and imagine the highs and lows of your life right now, what images or people would pop into your head?  More than likely there are high moments with people and places of great excitement, joy, and love.  More than likely there are also low moments that are still causing you some residual anxiety, stress or anger.  One of the reasons those low moments leave residual emotional scars is because of unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness of past events or people can be powerful and destructive even to your current relationships. 


Quick to anger.  if you find yourself quick to get angry over little issues, taking too many things personally,  or to blowing things out of proportion to their significance, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Anger is a powerful emotion that often has its roots in past rather than current events.  Our unresolved past events especially those events that were traumatic in nature creep into our current anger outbursts.


Biting sarcasm.  If you find yourself using biting sarcasm which is sarcasm that takes a dig at another person and find them not laughing or nervously laughing, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Biting sarcasm is anger’s close cousin and it is an effort to mask true feelings of anger and resentment.  Perhaps quicker than an angry outburst, biting sarcasm can destroy a relationship because it is a back-handed attack.


Malicious gossip.  If you find yourself needing to talk to several people about the same issue or person over and over to get just one more perspective, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Gossip is talking about someone behind their back.  Some even go to the lengths to justify their gossip by saying they were just trying to inform or protect someone else.  This is still gossip and your present relationships go on guard each time you talk about someone else behind their back.


Dreaming of revenge.  If you find yourself daydreaming of getting back at someone or seeking out ways to outdo someone else to prove you are better, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Revenge comes in many forms and it does not always have to be physically harmful to another person.  Just wanting a person to get what they deserve, lose a relationship, have financial hardships, or feel pain is vengeful thinking.  Your present relationships will then be in fear of retribution rather than feel your love.


Unforgiveness is powerful in that it gives you the false sense that you are in control.  By harboring the negative feelings, a person can feel like they are in charge.  But sadly, the person or event that caused the unforgiveness is really in control and in charge as you are merely reacting to the person or event.  Take charge of your own life and don’t allow someone else or something else to control what you are doing or how you are reacting.  Better yet, turn your life and your unforgiveness over to God and allow Him to take care of the person or situation. 


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About the author-
Chris Hammond is a
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at LifeWorks Group w/ over 15 years of experience as a counselor, mentor & teacher for children, teenagers & adults.

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