People do shitty things to us from time to time. Sometimes these are just kinda shitty things – like not saying thank you when you give them a ride to the gas station after their car runs out of gas. Other times these are really shitty things like breaking up with you or stealing your prized Star Wars posters (original trilogy, of course. Because if they were for the prequels you’d probably be all like, “What the fuck did I have those for in the first place? And why am I friends with a person who has such bad taste?”).
Whatever the situation, I’m sure that someone at some point in your life has jerked you around. This begs the question - how are we supposed to deal with it when people we care about act like assholes? Although I’m usually a big fan of righteous retribution (who doesn’t love pouring honey on someone’s bed sheets?) I’d like to suggest another idea – forgiveness.
Say it with me - I forgive you.
That was easy, right? Only three little words and now all is right with the world!
Saying you forgive someone is really easy.
But actually letting go of the hard feelings in your heart and moving on with your life is really. fucking. hard. But putting in the work is worth it. Why?
Holding on to grudges does three things:
1. It makes everything else in your life secondary to the pain you’re feeling. Have you ever had a friend who’s been broken up with and months later can’t seem to stop talking about the jerkwad who broke their heart? Every time you see this person they bring up the pain they’re feeling and talk about little else.
2. It stops your life from progressing. When you’ve been hurt and can focus on nothing else, you stop focusing on your goals and you stop focusing on building your life into what you want it to be.
3. You stop trusting the truly great people in your life because someone out there hurt you. When you can’t get beyond the hurt that one person caused you, it’s easy to assume that everyone else in your life is going to do the same thing to you. You hold people at arm’s length and don’t get to know the amazing people around you – or let them get to know the amazing person you are when you’re not stuck in grudge-land.
So how can you get past this damn grudge and move on with your life?
True forgiveness requires:
1. Accept that what was done is done and can’t be undone. No matter what, you can’t go back and change the past. Before you can forgive the person who has wronged you, you need to accept this or your subconscious will still be trying to fix the problem and you won’t be able to move on.
2. Accept that the person who has wronged you wasn’t thinking of you at the time – no matter how painful that may be to admit. We are all the center of our own universe. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that although you may mean the world to you, you probably don’t mean the world to all the people around you. While this is cold comfort, you need to understand that in most cases, even the bad things people do to you aren’t really about you. They’re about that person and what they think they need at that time.
3. Deal with your emotions. Don’t medicate your emotions away (either by self-medicating with your good friend Jim Beam, or the kind prescribed by your doctor) and just expect your problems to disappear. You have to face those suckers head-on. Get to the root of your feelings on the subject and try to understand why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. No amount of avoiding the issue will actually help you to move forward and move on with your life.
4. Quit playing the victim. Yes, someone has wronged you. Yes, you are hurting. But you have to accept that some of the responsibility lies with you. When your boyfriend who you knew to lie to everyone in his life ended up cheating on you, were you really blind to the possibility that he might be lying to you as well? Somewhere deep inside you had to have known this was a possibility but you weren’t ready to accept the facts. Accept them now and get ready to forgive.
5. Forgive the person. Give your forgiveness to the person who has wronged you – either in person or in a letter (whether you send it or not). Actually putting your forgiveness into words is very important as it gives your brain that final bump it needs to put an end to the emotional roller coaster you’ve been on.
6. Move on. Stop dwelling on it. Stop talking about it. Stop forming your life around it. Go out and chase the dreams you used to chase before you were the “wronged-party.” Go out and be determined to let your newfound forgiveness propel you in the direction of the awesome life you deserve. You’ve done a lot of growing, little buddy, and you deserve all of the happiness this life has to offer.
I know it’s hard, but forgiving the people who have wronged you is essential to your growth as a person. Contrary to popular belief, forgiveness is not about the person you’re forgiving, it’s about you. Let go of what was done and start growing as a person. If you always have the past hanging over your head you’ll never have room for that awesome future you’ve been dreaming of.
Have you forgiven anyone lately or do you have any other tips to help people move on? Let us know in the comments below.