In March, I will be giving a presentation on forgiveness. For those that have followed my story over the past year, it might seem like I am an incredibly forgiving person, but I certainly would not describe myself that way. I have always believed, however, in trying to live without carrying any regrets.
In a competitive environment, it is simply natural that colleagues will not always rally to give someone proper credit for their endeavors. Faced with economic challenges, companies will generally focus on bottom lines and ignore the human element in their decisions. Friends that may become too busy in their own lives may fade out of yours, or perhaps more high maintenance ones will resent you when you become less available for whatever reason. Even our own relatives that do not know how to properly express disappointment or frustration may act out in a way that might force you to cease all further contact. These are all unfortunately quite common occurences in life, and in order for us to move on without regret, we need to find a way to forgive– it is really just a question of degree.
I have learned throughout the years that I can quite easily forgive someone a minor transgression and continue with the relationship exactly in the same way. There are other transgressions, however, that will force a complete reconfiguration of the relationship, and each one of us has the right to make that decision for ourselves. Occassionally, there have been times when someone has won my forgiveness in a totally unexpected way– like when my son runs into his room after he knows he has crossed the line, and 10 minutes later comes back out with a drawing that just makes me melt. This past year, it was the same with my father– he did not win me over in one day, but rather with his words and deeds over the course of several months, he proved to me that I was far better off with him in my life, and that is how we got to where we are today.
To forgive is not easy, but we do all make mistakes. Some cannot be undone and will never be forgotten, but holding grudges and staying angry does not make the situation any better. Choosing to forgive someone, at whatever level, is actually an incredibly empowering feeling. My divorce clients that realize this sooner rather than later tend to have a far less stressful time during the divorce, a far easier time adjusting to single life, their children are far more well adjusted than those from an angry divorce, and they are far more apt to fall in love again and find a second chance at a balanced life with a new partner. So in the end, I think finding the ability to forgive is actually the best gift you can give yourself.