We’ve all been wronged and we’ve done things that we’re not proud of. Forgiveness seems to be the key to move on with our lives in both cases. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as motivational quotes in your friends Facebook feed would want it to be…
First of all, some things are easier to forgive than others. Being in any long-term relationship (be it romantic or not) certainly gives you opportunities to forgive for the simple reason that people aren’t perfect and sometimes they make thoughtless mistakes. It’s easier to let go if you know that person’s heart is in the right place. Sometimes it isn’t, though. For instance, when my frenemy was hitting on my then boyfriend and it was obvious to the point that he started to feel uncomfortable and communicated it to me, forgiveness didn’t come easy. Even when it did, the trust was still broken and I didn’t want to continue the friendship. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to keep a person in your life. In fact, especially if they’re a repetitive offender, that would be silly. The same goes for big bad things happening in the beginning of knowing someone: you should strive to forgive but walk away. If you saw a mirror was broken in a shop, you’d rather buy another one, wouldn’t you? Exactly. No wonder many of us doubt that a bad start can lead to a good relationship.
What makes a difference for how easy or difficult it is to forgive, is what’s been done to us. There’s obviously certain level of emotional pain that can make fluffy quotes about liberation that forgiveness brings offensive. Let’s be honest, many of us are quite lucky in life. Perhaps, like me, you come from a family of emotional coldness/ your parents didn’t support/ they always preferred your brother… There are so many things that are worse than that, though! If I still mull over my mother’s control and anxiety issues that kept me away from doing most things children do, how difficult does it have to be for someone to forgive physical or sexual abuse? To forgive seems to be a necessary ingredient to let go of the past but the more an experience broke you, the more difficult it is to do so. I think that if we can go as far as just acknowledge that someone is human, made a mistake and feel sorry for the fact that they’re in a point of their lives when behaving in certain way seemed like a good idea, that’s enough. I disagree that we have to necessarily love all humanity and be besties with the ones who wronged us.
Another challenge of forgiveness is learning to forgive yourself. From my experience the kinder I am to myself, the easier I’m on others. I used to be the type to cry over spilt milk forever. Why did I do it? Why didn’t I do something else? I really believe that we should try to honestly reply to this question, even if we don’t like the answer. Sometimes I do something I’m ashamed of because I was jealous, insecure or wanted to show off. These are not the qualities I want to see in myself but I know that if I don’t accept the reasons why I did something I can’t get better. At the same time, knowing the answer and beating yourself up for making a mistake is pointless too! As long as we learn it’s okay. Even if we repeated a mistake twice we should rather focus on not doing it the third time than making ourselves feel miserable with guilt. Beware of the alternatives of admitting your mistakes for they’re tempting too. Rather than accept that I did something wrong and admit it, it so much easier to talk it over with a friend and agree that this thing you did wasn’t your fault at all (- Maybe I shouldn’t have called Jessica a slut, but she was being such a bitch to me! – Totally!). Unfortunately, denial may be relieving for short term but long term it doesn’t serve us.
So far, I’ve mostly spoken about the challenges but there are big perks of forgiveness too. The past is gone and dwelling over it creates the presence full of drama. Perhaps I did enjoy this in my early twenties but the older I get, the less I feel like I want to go over the same old stories. What’s the point? Many of these people are not in my life anymore and if I’m reminded of something, I try not to indulge in getting caught up into thinking about it. Anger creates just more anger and there’s no relief. I’ve also noticed that the more I dwell over things and rage, the more often I tend to get angry in general. Also, people I want to be around don’t like bitter, angry people. Sure, no one’s perfect and an occasional moan and bitch session isn’t the end of the world. However, those who inspire me and who help me make my life better are not the same people with whom I’d often have drunk rants about how my ex from 10 years ago treated me badly. Forgiveness and letting go allow us to have a better today, regardless of what happened yesterday.
To sum up, people do bad things to us and we do bad things to people. They both require forgiveness so that we can move on, rather than become crippled by past events. Last but not least, forgiveness can be challenging and it doesn’t mean that we have to let the wrongdoer hurt us again.
So, Rinsers, what do you think? Are you a bitter type who never forgives and goes on forever about your own mistakes and those of others? Does it come easy to you to forgive? Tell me your secrets below.