Life issues: Unfinished Business
Forgiveness v Revenge
When somebody does something to harm you, it is natural to feel angry. Sometimes responding aggressively can only make the situation worse. Though it can be the hardest thing to do, the best course of action can be to take a deep breath, take some time out and consider your options and possible outcomes.
In Unfinished Business, Greg is a successful sportsman with everything going for him. Then a severe beating by Carl and his mates results in Greg being told that he will never play rugby again. Greg is very angry that his rugby days are over but is initially satisfied that Carl will go to jail and get his comeuppance.
When the charges against Carl are dropped, Greg becomes bitter and vows to get even. His personality changes and he walks around as if he has a chip on his shoulder. Kim detects Greg’s hostility and tells him to “let it go” and “move on.”
Greg plans his revenge despite Kim and Jess’ pleas for him to forgive and forget.
What would be the outcomes if Greg did beat Carl up?
- Greg may feel a short term satisfaction in getting even but what if Carl’s injuries were serious – Greg could end up feeling guilty and worse than he did before
- Greg could be charged and sentenced in a way that Carl was not
- Kim would act on her threat to leave Greg if he beat Carl up
- Family and friends may lose their respect for Greg.
We can see that the long term choices for Greg are not beneficial if he acts on his anger and bitterness. It takes Kim’s accident, for Greg to come to his senses and heed her advice. He forgives Carl to his face and moves on.
Greg talked about the anger being like a poison inside him. Anger and revenge can make you act in ways that are uncharacteristic and injudicious. In this position, your actions are dangerous.
Have you ever had somebody do something that made you angry and act in a way that you are not proud of?
e.g. Maybe you responded physically or verbally.
How did you feel after you acted?
e.g. Ashamed, embarrassed, guilty??
What were some alternative measures you could have taken which would have resulted in a better outcome?
e.g. Told someone else, talked about it, stated your feelings assertively, taken time out
In this situation, often the best thing to do is take a deep breath, try to relax and give yourself time to consider your options and the possible outcomes. I know this is easier said than done, but rash actions can have negative consequences as Greg almost found out.
Remember that everybody feels anger. What differentiates us is the way we act upon our anger. Some tips to use in situations where you may feel angry:
- Take a deep breath
- Think through the consequences of proposed actions
- Keep your cool
- Use hard logic to quell the anger – remind yourself that the world is not against you and getting angry will fix nothing
- Defuse the situation with humour where appropriate
- Act in an assertive manner
The feeling of forgiving somebody can be quite satisfying in itself. Like Jess says in the episode ” Forgiving can often take a lot more strength than getting even.” In many ways, the easier and more predictable option is to react aggressively. The harder option, but one that will gain you more self- respect and admiration from others, is forgiveness.