By Teresa D. Cochran
In another installment of my series on Finding Yourself we look at Finding Your Forgiveness. How do you forgive yourself foremost, forgive others, live for today, and not relive your yesterdays?
Yes, the dreaded “forgive” word. To forgive or not to forgive, it’s really not the question. You must forgive for yourself, not for others. Basically, “forgive yourself” no matter what the circumstances. Let your hurt go for you. Whether you feel someone has wronged you or you have wronged someone else. It’s the only way to set your heart and mind free from your own thoughts. What I call “getting out of your own head” and moving forward. So let’s get out of our own heads. This is a good one. Definitely a good one.
In my early twenties I spent four years dating what, on paper, would present to be what I thought was a wonderful young man. Someone who I imagined marrying and having a family with. Somewhere, four years into the relationship he said to me, “I’m not good enough for you.” I cared about him so much, loved him, adored him, and respected him. I couldn’t believe he was saying this to me. I briskly and immediately told him, “YES YOU ARE!” I thought four years of my life and the possibility of “forever” and you’re not “GOOD ENOUGH” for me. He was telling me his truth and all I wanted to see was that he didn’t want to step up to the plate. Well, in reality, he just didn’t want to step up to my plate. So he wasn’t “The One.” Would there ever be “The One?”
Failed and lost relationships are just one of the many areas of life where we search for forgiveness, for ourselves, and to forgive others who we feel may have wronged us. No one person is perfect. Although, we can perceive and idealize someone in that way, I think it only sets us up for disappointment. The most important thing is to find someone who accepts you for you. There is something to be said for unconditional love of another who is not an immediate family member. Loving and accepting someone because you want to not because you are expected to. This is true in friendships and in love. So how do you forgive someone for hurting your feelings? How do you forgive yourself for hurting someone else’s feelings? It can be as simple as letting those negative feelings go, let them out of your head, and choose to move forward with positive thoughts. By saying to yourself, “That was yesterday and this is today, and today is a new day. Anything is possible!” Forgive yourself for your mistakes as well. You have to, to move on. I once read forgive quickly and never regret anything that made you smile. That spoke to me. This can mean to forgive yourself quickly too.
Having positive thoughts in any difficult situation can help. I know it’s easier said than done. Some people naturally gravitate towards negative thoughts and others gravitate towards positive. Like the saying, some people see the glass half full and some see the glass half empty. I see the glass half full, always. I also believe happiness on a daily basis is a choice. I’m not saying I don’t get mad and frustrated at times, and feel hurt or not appreciated. Sure I do, but in those moments I choose to let the hurtful things roll off my back, like water rolling off a ducks tail. In most frustrating situations I just find myself laughing. I say to myself “Really?,” and then I shake my head and move on. My Nana was a serious laugher, seriously, and thank goodness I take after her.
How do you forgive your boss or co-worker for rude comments or indifference in the workplace? I’m still working on this one, but in my experience if your boss is not open to listening and hearing you, pulling out and dusting off your resume is really the only choice. Then the day you give your two weeks’ notice, I have no doubt the forgiveness and elation will come. No doubt.
How do you forgive a family member or loved one for betraying your trust or insulting you? It seems like your family and extended family, such as in-laws, can be harsher than a stranger off the street. Who can relate to this? Well, I don’t have in-laws but I have several friends that do and the way these extended family members can treat the spouse of their family member is unbelievable. What person thinks they have the right to project such judgment onto another person? A person that is loving their child? I just don’t get it. Having the support of your spouse is instrumental in getting through the family get togethers. When inappropriate comments escalate, your spouse should support you by either, watching you say good-bye and walking out the door for that visit or they can get up and leave with you. Either way, you have every right to get up, smile, say thank you for a lovely time, and let them watch your fabulous backside walk right out the door as you put your hand up and wave politely good-bye. In that moment you should forgive their actions and be prepared to see them again at the next get together with graciousness, as their actions do not define you or how you feel about yourself so what they say just isn’t on your radar.
Just as I’m writing this, just as you are reading this I’m saying, yes, you can forgive. You can let all of the past go. All of the wrongs, the feelings of fear and doubt. You can simply choose to let it go and choose you, and your future happiness. You are more important than any other one experience you have lived with or any other person that has wronged you. Sure, those people and experiences shaped you but this is your one life. You decide what matters and what defines you. So think about it, now armed with the knowledge that, if you know nothing anyone else says or does defines you, only you define you, how could you not choose to forgive? How could you not see how another’s insignificant poor actions have nothing to do with you?
We only have control over our own actions. Never the actions of others. We also have control over the value we give to others’ actions. If we give it no value, it holds no value. So in our search for “The One,” the one love of our life, the one true friend, the one dream job we want, the close family or in-laws, what is the answer? To forgive, let go, that’s the answer. Life will bring you happiness, sadness, joy, fear, anxiety, love, confusion, and more. None of these are necessarily bad things. To feel is to be alive. To be alive is a great gift. To find the meaning of your one life is the point and purpose. The rest just doesn’t matter. It’s a blip on the radar of your wonderful gift. So get out of your own head, get out of your own way, and get busy living and enjoying the rest of the life you have left. In your way. On your terms. You decide.