Have you recently been done dirty by a sibling? Did your brother eat too many of your Double Stuf OREOs that you had been saving for the last month? Because me too.
Or maybe it was a roommate trying to start a fight for no reason? Hmm—we all seem to have those unnecessary spats with our roommates while stuck putting groceries away. In cases like these, it is often impossible to forgive and forget. Often, the idea of forgiving someone that has done something as horrendous as stealing your hidden supply of OREOs seems impossible, but let me break it down for you a little more.
So, what is forgiveness?
Forgiveness can mean a variety of things to different people. Overall, it involves a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. So repeated thoughts of torturing your brother should be banished at all costs—whoops. On a more serious note, an act that hurt or offended you can stay with you for a while, but forgiveness can decrease its hold on you and help free you from the control of the individual that harmed you. In no way am I condoning excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm; instead, I’m just stating that forgiveness in a way brings us all inner peace that helps us move on in life.
For some reason, it’s so easy to hold a grudge—I mean you all could just ask my family friend who decided to become a hair stylist and give my Barbies new hair-dos in elementary school. Don’t worry, we’re chill now. I just would never trust her with cutting my hair. On a more serious note, individuals seem to still not interact because of some incident that happened years ago. Holding onto grudges is kind of like holding onto suffering and can be immensely tiring. Eventually, it’s not even about who is right or who is wrong here—because quite frankly everyone is right in terms of their own perspectives. If you allow negative feelings to take over positive ones, you might find yourself taken over by your own bitterness. Forgiving someone and not holding a grudge doesn’t mean forgiving someone’s behavior. Instead it has to do with not wasting your precious time fighting with someone mentally.
Let me fill you all in on what I have learned from forgiving someone who, essentially, at one point in time made me doubt everything about myself. First, I’ve learned that you can’t really forgive unless you truly sit and think about what all has happened and how it affected you emotionally and/or physically. The most important thing I have realized is deciding to surrender—not to the individual, but more like surrendering to your desire to get even with the person. In fact, start to put yourself in their shoes and perhaps have some compassion for the individual that treated you poorly. I know, this seems quite literally impossible. But instead of labeling the other person as an “evil incarnate,” realize that the other person could be motivated by fear and frankly might fear something else and act out because of that. The simplest step, but quite possibly the most difficult, is moving on—stop dwelling on what happened or how life used to be—stop watching their Instagram stories 2,378,429,374 times. The past is in the past—all we really have is now.
A problem that I have realized I have while trying to forgive others is trying to keep my ego in check. My ego knows how to get me fired up and make things way too personal when they really don’t need to be. Furthermore, she—my ego of course—wants me to stand up for myself and my values but, sometimes makes things worse by making me “prove” my self-worth. In fact, forgiveness should be about us—we cannot control what the other person does but what we can control is ourselves.
Forgiveness can be a fickle thing. But trust me, it does wonders. There’s no point in dwelling on what could be wrong with you or what mistakes you must have made—just accept that it’s over and move on. I think the biggest take away from all this is that we need to learn to forgive ourselves more. So, in the future, forgive your brother for stealing your OREOs, forgive the pesky roommate, but most importantly, forgive yourself. Maybe we all take a look at the old age adage… “to forgive and forget,” which might be the best policy after all.