Good morning, beauty! Yesterday we talked about going easy on ourselves. Today I’d like to suggest that you do the same for someone who has done you wrong.
Anne Lammot wrote that not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die. It’s an old saw, but I think it’s true. True, and hard. And possibly very time-consuming. Like many of the ideas we’ve looked at in the last month, this suggestion is not likely to be boxed up and complete in one day. Forgiveness may be a long road, and you may have every reason to feel angry, sad, regretful about what you have endured or what you weren’t given. No one escapes life among other humans unscathed.
We may be entitled to our anger or resentment, but that doesn’t mean our anger and resentment are good for us. Now, I’m in no way suggesting that you positive-think your way out of your feelings, or that you are bad or wrong if you feel regret about things that have happened in your life. What I am suggesting is that you may find it useful to explore how it feels to have compassion for someone who has hurt you. Chances are good that the person who hurt you was hurt themselves. It may help to remember that all people just want to be happy, and that if people knew how to act better, they would.
It may also help you to imagine this person as a helpless new baby, full of love and potential. What must have happened to that baby to make him or her act the way they did toward you? This exercise works for everyone from challenging parents to horrible exes to people who cut you off in traffic. They were all little babies at the start.
Does that mean we let people off the hook for treating us poorly? Not at all. You owe it to yourself to get away from people who hurt you, and you owe it to your kids who are watching you and learning what to expect in relationship. It just means we stop focusing on what was done to us and start learning to give ourselves the boundless love and care that all people desire and deserve.