Vidya Sury is too well known to need an introduction. Her posts are always brimming with positivity, she is always upbeat. Her words are insightful and funny. It is always a pleasure to read her. Though, sometimes I am simply not able to. But I believe that I would be taken to her blog the day I need to read something she has written. I console myself with that thought.
This is what I read on her blog today:
I’ve been thinking about the “forgive and forget” advice my Mom used to constantly gave me. I’ll tell you why. It is funny how life comes a full circle and people who treated you badly suddenly do an about turn and decide to be nice. Growing up as a “fatherless girl” as I was called, quite a few members of my family did not think my Mom and I deserved a normal life because we were not a “normal” family. Consequently we were shuffled around quite a bit. Thanks to our “tradition” one never talked back to the elders in the house, regardless of whether they were right or wrong. Oh yes, they were wrong. Often.
As I grew older, and developed a mind of my own, the rebel in me grew too. I would find it hard to keep quiet when they were unkind to my Mom. I always considered myself stronger emotionally but couldn’t bear to see my Mom hurt. And it would freak me out when my Mom smiled and said “forgive and forget”. I mean, how could she?
Read the rest at Forgive and Forget – Is it possible?
Having read the post, I thought for a few minutes about my own take on the entire forgive and forget deal.
The truth is, I am not very sure what people refer to when they talk of forgiveness.
In the past decade, after expending a mountain load of futile ire and many truckloads of childish peeve, I have now reached a place where I am genuinely (and I assure you this is not an affectation) not hurt by people. Not hurt. Sometimes I am offended by their thoughtlessness and sheer cluelessness, but that exasperation is only momentary. I ask myself if I really want to give clueless and (sometimes inadvertently) thoughtless people a space in my head. The answer is always no. Is this what people mean, when they talk of forgiveness?
But the incident does get noted somewhere. There is no revengeful or resentful anger in the record. It is more in the nature of self- protection. It is more in the nature of hanging a red lantern at the mouth of an abyss. Or the way you would note that a particular path in the woods leads you to a dangerous quicksand and so must be traversed with care. I mean, why would you be resentful of the abyss or the quicksand? Doesn’t sound frightfully clever, does it? Is that what forgiveness means?
Once the incident has cooled down, I make it a point to let the other person know, without accusation or blame, that their action was not something I expected of them. I let them know in very honest words that their actions/ words did offend me. I have seen that when the words are gentle and non- accusatory, it leaves enough room for the other person to re- examine themselves. It also creates enough space for them to offer an explanation, if there is one. Once this process has been gone through, we are both free to wipe the slate clean. I wonder if this is forgiveness?
The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
~ Steve Maraboli
Much as I recommend forgive and forget, I am a huge fan of prevention is better than cure. Think of the wear and tear you could avoid if you wouldn’t get hurt in the first place. In one sweep you render the entire forgive and forget operation inessential. Thus saving time and a whole lot of emotional energy which would be better used elsewhere. For instance in telling your loved ones how MUCH you love them.
This does not mean that no one who can hurt me. There are some, but they are so few that I can count them on fingers of one hand. Even those who can, can’t hurt me except in certain circumstances. My kids, for example, can’t hurt me by arguing with me. They annoy me that way- and HOW! They can hurt me by doing something which puts them in harm’s way, or by being uncaring of each other. Thankfully, those instances are very rare. This further narrows the field down. Or is this forgiveness?
If I do get hurt, however rarely, I try to examine the circumstances. From my knowledge of the person, who has to be someone that matters to me greatly, I ask myself why the person might have done what they did by asking myself the following questions:
1. Were they aware that I would be hurt by their actions and yet did/ say what they did?
2. Did they do it to hurt me or was it done as a reflex action to protect themselves from pain?
3. What was going on inside them to make them do what they did?
4. Where are they hurting (surely they must be hurting too if they could throw hurting things at me)?
5. Can I help them deal with their pain?
When you ask better question, you get better answers.
By the time these question are asked- and answered- my focus has shifter from my own pain to that of the one who hurt me. I have no energy or inclination left to be angry or resentful towards them. On the contrary, I am intensely aware of their pain and of my desire to help them out of it. Maybe this is forgiveness?
I really don’t know what part of the process above can be called forgiveness. Maybe all, maybe none. But one thing I am certain of. It is not good to nurture resentment in your heart for another person. It keeps you tied to that person in a karmic way. As long as you share that karmic bond, you will bear the consequences (albeit microscopically) of that person’s karma. If the person does good, you will share a miniscule part of that goodness. If the person does evil, a tiny part of their evil will also be yours.
I have enough to do dealing with my own good and evil, I don’t need random people, who don’t even matter to me, tipping the scales for me. I don’t want that kind of grief at all. Is this what people refer to when they talk of forgiveness?
What is your stand on the Forgive and Forget deal?