Forgiveness wasn’t in my plan for this week’s ‘how-to’, however after picking up April’s Glamour (AKA my bible), Dawn O'Porter’s column inspired me. Now forgiveness isn’t (and won’t be) the easiest of my how-tos because some people can forgive easier than others, others never will, and that’s okay too. I used to hold grudges and felt I could never forgive but a few years ago that weirdly evaporated, and it’s the lightest feeling I now have.
Like everyone I’ve had lots of situations where the question of forgiveness has come into play, whether it’s having my heart broken, being bulled, betrayal or general hurt - you name it, there was a catalogue of examples where I could have forever held resentment. And for a while I did. I let it bubble up and slowly eat away at me, I felt very scheming Blair Waldorf Gossip Girl without the Upper East Side budget and Dorota on hand to do my plotting. But back across The Atlantic and back to reality, how did I reach my inner zen? It’s not very scientific but roughly the below…
In order to forgive you need to take in what’s happened to you and this can mean different things for different people. Some do it silently or go away for a few days, some do it vocally over the internet (not recommended), some throw things, scream, cry - however helps you deal with it, do it.
Depending on the situation, once you’re at a point where you need to forgive someone and you know what you’re dealing with, like anything, give it a few days to react. Sometimes I get emails that I don’t ‘like’ the tone of or you can get a message off your friend where you think she’s ‘having a dig’ but you may just be having a ‘down hour’ or being super sensitive so I always give myself a few hours to go away and come back and read again before composing myself to respond. Forgiveness needs this too.
The Deciding Factor
I guess the big deciding factor as to whether you can forgive them is to ask yourself whether you want to live a lighter life. When I forgave all the people who had ‘done me wrong’ so to speak, a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders. You have to ask yourself whether you want them and the situation to forever have control of your life and your happiness. “Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head” - can you afford that extra baggage? Is it affecting your life more than theirs by not forgiving and forgetting about it? Before you can carry on, address those.
Depending on the above, healing is the next step. When I’ve done it, I’ve always tried to understand that person’s stand point, their reasons behind what they’ve done or as Rufus Humphrey once pointed out: “There’s always something beneath the surface with people like that to make them act the way they do.” If you can find that, do.
Self-explanatory but once the above is ticked off, you can move on. A few years ago I lost touch with one of my best friends. I hated it and whilst there was no ‘turning point’ to notice what made us drift apart, it got to a point where I was like “no, this is stupid, people shouldn’t just go out of your life if you want them there.” So over the past year or so we’ve gone through the above. The first few meetings were tough, I’m not going to sugar coat it. There was a lot of hurt, upset and anger - added to that was time passed which is also a painful factor in itself. We both laid out on the table (I literally wrote a three page letter) of all the times we’d hurt each other. We listened to each other’s side so we could understand each other’s situation - no question was off bounds and there was crying but it was probably one of the best emotional cleanses I’ve had. We processed, we reacted, we decided we didn’t want to give up on our relationship and over the past year we’ve worked on re-buiilding just that.
If All Else Fails, Forget
“I want to forgive you, and I want to forget you” (fans of The Hills will remember this moment when Heidi and Lauren had their big bust up), but the point stands regardless. Sometimes you might not be able to forgive and you’re only option is to forget. Easier said than done right? Not only is time a big player in this but generally just living your life. We all live at a crazy speed from having fast-paced careers to fitting in all of your friends, partner, hobbies, holidays, fitness, family … so living helps too.
And to the flip the coin, I’ve been the one needing forgiveness too, heck there’s people out there I’ve broken their hearts and hurt them too - some you never realise you’ve done it until they bring it up. This ain’t no one way road. Because the real secret to forgiveness (despite all of the advice above), is when both parties heal, when they both forgive, or at least forget, because as Buddha once quite rightly said: “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."