|Photo Credit: Lucian Milas / CC0 1.0|
Forgiveness usually exists in one of these forms: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, or asking for forgiveness.
Forgiving others may be the easiest of all since you get to admit that someone else is at fault, s/he is the one asking for forgiveness, and you’re the one who gets to forgive.
About a year ago, an old classmate of mine reached out to me on Facebook and apologized for being mean to me when we were kids. She was being vulnerable and I could tell she was being authentic. I told her that I forgave her and that it wasn’t something that scarred me. I knew we were kids and a lot of people, especially me, do dumb things because we don’t know any better. Luckily, it was something I was able to let go sometime in my youth.
Sometimes it’s better to forgive someone even if no one asked for forgiveness at all. If you wait for an apology, you may never get it. If you’re able to let go of the pain, then you’ll live your life a whole lot lighter and you’ll get to be the bigger person.
Years ago, I used to have a supervisor who didn’t have a lot of integrity. A lot of people, including myself, felt that were were being treated unfairly. Like most sane people, I left. She never said goodbye, wished me well, or apologized for being a crappy boss. I wouldn’t expect it anyway; it’s out of her character. Although I would never work with her again, I have put my experienced with her behind me. Holding onto any type of bitterness, however small, would be toxic.
Forgiving yourself requires you to look honestly at yourself and your past, acknowledge that you did something wrong, and confront that. It’s something that could take years to accomplish.
I know I’m not a perfect person, but I try to be as close to it as possible. I’ve said stupid or hurtful things. I’ve let people down. I’ve beat myself up about things that’ve already happened. I can’t do anything to change the past, but I can learn to forgive myself.
Asking for Forgiveness
Asking for forgiveness is probably one of the hardest things in the world to do. This is where you really are vulnerable and eat humble pie. This is where you admit that you’re at fault, and it’s entirely up to someone else to forgive you. They could forgive you, or not. It’s their choice. Either way, the outcome is out of your hands.
About a year ago, I apologized to a friend of mine that I used to be close with. I didn’t keep contact for about 8 years or so. I was a bad friend. Out of grace, she came back into my life and I told her that I was sorry for not being there for her all these years. Fortunately, she understood that our lives got busy and we’re in a better place now.
There are times when it’s easier to forgive than others, but I’m a big believer in forgiving, but not forgetting. If someone wronged me or I wronged someone, it’s a life lesson to be learned. I’m not going to make the mistake again. If someone wronged me, I may trust them again, but within reasonable limits. If someone flaked out on me and apologized, I’d forgive them, but not rely on their punctuality in the future.
Being able to forgive is something that we are blessed to be. Forgiveness makes the world a kinder, more compassionate place.
Roderick Conwi is a professional development coach and writes at Nourishment Notes about lifestyle development. He is also the author of The Procrastinator's Quick Guide To Getting It Done. To get powerful insights that enhance your day, join his free newsletter.