Forgiveness doesn’t come easy to me — a fact that bothers me a lot. As you may know, it’s pretty exhausting to hold a grudge, yet it can be quite hard to just forgive and let go. I strive to develop the trait of forgiveness, a character I admire greatly in other people. But I almost always have a hard time forgiving people, especially when it’s something I have to do repeatedly. And even when I do forgive, I actively avoid close relationship with that person afterwards.
I think I fail at forgiveness because I may have fostered really high expectations of the process.
Maybe it’s a gradual process, not a one-time thing. And maybe the traces of anger, hurt, betrayal or whatever “negative” emotion that comes up after making a conscious decision to forgive doesn’t mean I can’t work past it; maybe, but I never try long enough to find out. So I fall back to the familiar and ironically gratifying habit of alienating someone who has offended me.
When someone – for the most part, somebody I’m close to – does something that offends me, I feel betrayed. Depending on how I perceive the person’s action, I either forgive them without thinking anything of the perceived offense or I feel deeply offended and react by shutting the person out and staying angry about what the person did. I hold on to my grudge, unwilling to forgive and consequently dealing with the hard work of fanning the flames of my anger just to justify my reaction- an unhealthy resentment. So what do I usually get in the end? A severed relationship and an inner turmoil that’s unbelievably hard to calm. A result I try so hard, against my better judgement, to achieve.
I get this way because I’m wont to have high and rather rigid expectations of people.
When someone close to me does something that offends me, I’m inclined to feel like they should’ve known better than to hurt me. But over time, I’ve learned to understand what it means to have healthy standards and how to associate them with healthy expectations while being aware of the fact that we are all, in some ways, irredeemably flawed, and this seeps into how we treat each other.
The ideal reaction to a perceived offense is, not to abandon the person because I’ve been introduced to their dark side, but to understand that EVERYONE has a dark side, myself included. To be tolerant and forgiving, I need to understand that everyone is still lovable and deserving of forgiveness, and it’s not always about me. The idea is to focus on the things I love about the other person while still being aware of how I want to be treated, as long as my standards are not ridiculous and coming from a place of blatant self-righteousness. And in a situation where the other person seems toxic, I still do not have to make dramatic exits out of their life. There’re ways to depart a relationship (friendship or otherwise) that has run its course, without creating bad blood.
The fact is that I’m a human being who is imperfect, prone to offend other people and in constant need of forgiveness, too.
I know how it feels to have hurt someone because of a thoughtless action on my part and how I desperately want to be forgiven.
So I choose be more tolerant and forgiving because it’s important I learn the (sometimes) difficult task of compassion. It’s one of the ways I can keep my inner peace and stay connected to people.