In general, I consider myself to be a forgiving person.
However, like anybody, there are always a few people that I have a hard time getting over.
I am not talking about past lovers here. Rather, I am talking about the people I believe have wronged me in some significant way.
I am hardly alone.
Rarely would a person not have at least one of these people on their list. It may be a parent who walked out when we were children, a friend who stole from us or a spouse who cheated.
However, dwelling on what they did to us seldom accomplishes anything positive. All too often we think that in order to move on we have to forgive them. While forgiveness is something we should all strive for, sometimes, realistically, it just isn’t possible. Still, we can move on and forgiveness may come once that happens.
Even if forgiveness doesn’t come, moving on can lift a tremendous burden from our shoulders.
The following below were of great help in my own journey of letting go and hopefully, they will be to others as well:
1. Figure out why we cannot move on or why we feel stuck.
As silly as it sounds, sometimes we lose sight of what we are specifically upset about. If, for instance, it’s a case where a parent abandoned us as a child, it can be helpful to list or say out loud the exact things that made us upset: not seeing them, not having them there physically, not having financial support, etc.
Being specific may allow us to frame our anger which in turn may be allow us to let go of some of it.
However, be careful of thinking that doing so will result in the person who wronged us to get “what’s coming to them” which leads me to #2.
2. Let go of waiting for them to feel remorse, get their just desserts, or confess that they’ve done wrong.
Just like bad things sometimes happen to good people, good things can often happen to bad people.
I know many people who did some horrible things to others but seemed to thrive. It’s hardly fair, but life isn’t fair. Waiting for someone to feel remorse or have karma bite them can be about as fruitless as waiting for Godot.
Even if it happens, we probably won’t know or be there to see it. This closely ties in with #3.
3. Stop trying to point out how they wronged us or why their actions hurt us.
I confess that this is the hardest one for me to let go of. Blame it on my overly-logical mind or my belief that every action has consequences, but I still fall into the trap of believing that if I point out how someone has wronged me and back it up with proof, they will see the error of their ways.
Sometimes this happens. Many times, though, it does not.
Whenever I get frustrated, I think of a story once told to me by a former yoga student of mine who also happened to be a criminal defense attorney: even with mountains of evidence against them, many people will outright lie or deny they ever committed a crime. (And bear in mind that this is when they are facing jail time.)
Unfortunately, many people are like this and, arguably, may even be more inclined to be like this when they aren’t facing any legal consequences. As frustrating as it is, all we can do is tell ourselves we did our best and keep #4 in mind.
4. Remember the best revenge of all: living well.
Living well truly is the best revenge of all, and it doesn’t even have to involve ever confronting the other party.
I’m probably not alone in this but the times I dwelled most on the people I believed who wronged me were times when my life was not going very well. While sometimes things happen in our lives that we have no control over, living well does depend a lot on perspective.
For example, no one I know who has done so would say they loved going through a divorce. However, seeing a divorce as a step toward a new and better life is better than, say, viewing it as the end of one’s life. (This is especially true if your spouse if your spouse happens to be a person that wronged you.)
Whatever it takes, don’t believe you are in competition with the person or persons who wronged you and feel you have to beat them in the living well game. It’s ultimately not a game or contest, and no one is handing out points or keeping score. Hopefully, you’ll be living so well you won’t even have time to think or care about their lives.
In conclusion, getting over those who legitimately wronged us in some way may never be easy, but it is possible. Some of us may be quicker at doing so than others but the most important thing is that each of us work it out in our own time. (In my case, it took years to get over some.) Still, if I can do it, then just about anyone can.
In any case, peace to those on that journey—whether you are already well on the path or haven’t even taken the first step.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman