Thoughts and such like.....
I am late with this weeks' blog for a number of reasons, one of which was I was struggling about what to write - I thought about boundaries, then about service - or lack of it, and finally as I was thinking about something else, and watched a person with whom I was once great friends and who, I felt had injured me and ruined our friendship, walk by, I thought about forgiveness.
Forgive for none of us are perfect
Now we've all experienced the occasion where we've felt betrayed, some of us more than once! I remember someone telling me that when they reached 40 they made a decision not to remain friends with anyone that made them feel bad about themselves, in other words negative individuals, often unhappy with who they are and who want to spread the unhappiness to others, and so take every opportunity to make you feel bad about yourself, or who spread toxicity about others. It was great advice, and I've followed it ever since. And, I believe the same advice applies to those who have either deliberately on not, caused harm to you either physically or mentally. I worked with an analyst once who noted that mental abuse can be more harmful than physical, in that it stays in the mind and can play havoc with your mental state.
There have been times in my life where I've felt saddened and betrayed by a 'friend' who for whatever reason told secrets (I wrote about secrets here: keeping-secrets.html) that I'd entrusted to them. My reaction was to close up, and not trust anyone with secrets or dreams for some time. Others have asked how I could forgive those who had, as I feel, betrayed my trust? For me it gets easier, after a while, to forgive someone, because really if I continue to live with my anger and sense of injustice, who am I really hurting in the long run, the individual who betrayed me may long have forgotten about the part they played, or don't feel they did such an bad thing, I'm the one who continues to suffer, who relives the pain of betrayal (it's sounds so dramatic, but I'm sure you've experienced a time where you've felt hurt and that monkey on your back just won't let it go), however I've found when I forgive someone, really work through my pain and hurt, and forgive them, I can move on. That's not to say I want to remain friends with them or trust them again, but the forgiveness, that's for me - to help me move forward and as woo woo as it sounds, it does work.
'Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles,
a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth.
Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life'.
So how do you go about forgiving others? For me it's about my mental health and the need to let go. The people I admire more than anyone are those who have forgiven huge injustices, such as Nelson Mandela who forgave his jailers, or more close to my home, the forgiveness given by the parents of a young girl, beaten and drowned by her peers, to one of the young people who committed the crime after they acknowledged their part in this death. There are numerous tales of the courage of other people, parents, children and siblings forgiving others of grievous harm, and yet as individuals we still have difficulty in understanding forgiveness and how it can help us move forward. Is this difficulty because we too sometimes lack the courage to admit we are wrong, or made a mistake?
Owning up to a mistake, or error takes courage and humility. It is important to own up immediately we recognize our error, both for us, and for those who we may have harmed. It's important to own up and not give excuses - I was talking to a client the other day and noted that I once worked with JETRO (Japanese External Trade Relations Organization), where one of the most important things I learned was to apologize, and not make excuses, nor blame others - I did it, I own it! If it's at work, own it as soon as you realize you've made it, take a breath, figure out a solution and let whomever needs to know, about the mistake and your solution - maybe it's so bad you lose your job, don't get angry, figure it out and as you job hunt, own the mistake and what you have learned from it - potential employers would much rather hear about your error from you than your previous employer. I always say a mistake, is not really a mistake when you have learned from it, it's an education.
Within friendship, if you make a mistake, apologize from the heart and never make excuses - own it. Remember too, that although you own it, you cannot control your friend's reaction to either the mistake or your apology. Don't expect them to react as you would want, each of us reacts to hurt in a different way, we bring our own history and how we respond to hurt and apologies; your way is not necessary theirs. Patience, is a waiting game, don't try and gloss over the mistake, or pretend it didn't happen - it did, learn from it and realize that we all process things in our own way and time. In the meanwhile, take some time yourself to examine what happened and look at whether this is an error you have made before. If it is it may be that you need to look at yourself and what it is that may cause you to repeat the same mistake. You may need to make some changes in your behaviour, and when others see you trying to change, appreciate the effort you are making and maybe be more willing to forgive you and move forward.
Key in either forgiveness or in making mistakes is that the only thing you can control is yourself and your reaction - it's important to remember that we all screw up - however if we can learn from our mistakes, and make an effort to correct how we deal with situations that truly show who we are, both to ourselves and others. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. Remember, you only have one life, you are in charge of how you live it, so don't live in anger, or fear that you will make a mistake - forgive, learn and live the life that's left in you with joy and humility.
“The first to apologize is the bravest.
The first to forgive is the strongest.
And the first to forget is the happiest.”
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog