Forgiving: Leaving the bitterness behind

We have all been wronged. The question is, how long do you want to feel bitter about it?

I’ve lost count of the times that people have let me down or intentionally hurt me. I’ll be 50 next year. That’s a lot of time to experience disappointment and heartbreak. What I refuse to do, is carry those feelings around with me longer than I have to.

Life is short. Feeling mad at someone else doesn’t feel good. I’d rather be happy. So I let go of it. I do this by feeling compassion for the person who wronged me. Life is short. They did what they did. Maybe they couldn’t help themselves. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how I chose to respond to what happened.

I can’t control other people. I can’t make them behave the way I want them to behave. And yet many of us act as if we have a right to expect that people will. We want and expect an apology, an acknowledgement that we were harmed.

It’s stupid to waste any time feeling entitled to an apology. First, you probably aren’t going to get one. If you were going to get one, it won’t have happened promptly. Second, by waiting on an apology before you move on emotionally, you are placing your future happiness in the hands of a person who has proven they can’t be trusted with your happiness. They have already wronged you. Don’t rely on them to make you happy. They aren’t capable of it.

As a Humanist I like to approach things realistically, compassionately and humbly. Given that I’m probably not going to get an apology, I would be stupid to demand one. What is really at issue is my pride. Being humble, I’m able to accept, I may not deserve an apology. Not getting on isn’t a problem for me if I am humble enough to not feel entitled to one?

Finally I feel compassion for myself and the person who wronged me. It’s ok for me to feel hurt. And it’s ok for the person who wronged me to feel entitled to whatever it is they are feeling. I don’t need to worry about them, I need to worry about me. And I want to be happy.  The quickest way back to happiness is to let go of my pride, accept I’m not getting an apology and decide I don’t need one anyway and move on. Happily.

Don’t compound the harm done by others by imprisoning yourself in your pride. Forgive them and forgive yourself and move on.

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