“Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha
I recently came across this Buddha life lesson in my weekly planner. The planner suggests I take Buddha’s advice to let go of negative feelings toward people in my past and reflect on the lessons I’ve learned.
If you’re a normal cancer patient like me (never thought I’d be typing that sentence), then some people have abandoned you when you needed them most: at the time of your diagnosis and during your battle with cancer. It is, unfortunately, common for cancer patients to lose friends and feel betrayed by people they felt close to.
Looking back, I believe that in some ways it was a blessing in disguise. The people who were not there during the nightmare are not the kinds of family and friends we need. And that’s OK. Everyone in our lives serves a purpose. The question often boils down to when they serve that purpose.
Back then I swore I’d never talk with them again. It’s not that I didn’t want to forgive. It’s that I thought forgiving them would make me seem weak. To this day, I experience ebbs and flows on whether to answer a text they’ve sent, like their Instagram pictures, or reach out when something reminds me of them.
The quote in my planner could not have come at a better time.
Just the other day, before seeing the Buddha message, I reached out to a woman who had hurt me. A memory of our trip to California three years ago popped up on my Timehop app. We had a conversation, and my fiancé said something to the effect that “I like to reminisce.” He’s right.
Even people who did us wrong served a purpose in our lives. I am growing as I continue to learn from my journey with lymphoma. I grow so I can let go of the hot coal, and accept all the experiences that made me who I am today.
Buddha’s lesson applies to cancer patients in so many ways. It isn’t just fair-weather friends we’d like to throw a hot coal at. We’d also like to throw a coal at our diagnosis, our treatment, our complications, our finances — the list goes on and on.
For me, the lesson hit home at exactly the right moment. I needed to know it was OK to let go of my resentment toward those who did me wrong. The ones who were not there for me when I needed them.
Most importantly, I realized I needed to get rid of the anger and negativity — for me. I deserve a future that’s shaped by positive experiences instead of the negative emotions that come with resentment.
If you’ve struggled with how to let go and forgive, I urge you to start a dialogue about it in the comments section of this post. It’s important for you to know you not alone.
I am going to strive to forgive and find peace so my hand can stop burning from the coals I am grasping. Will you join me?
And let’s talk more about the people who showed up next time.
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.