Should you forgive when people continue to do you wrong?

It is fair to say that we have all been disappointed by another person at least once in our lives; if you haven’t already, then rest assured, you will at some point in your life, guaranteed. You may even be disappointed by someone’s actions towards you more than once in life, which bears the question; should you forgive when people continue to do you wrong?

I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings ‘Forgive and forget’ and ‘Turn the other cheek’, but to what extent are these philosophies useful when it comes to repeat offenders? Are we expected to continually make allowances for people who have no regard for the feelings of others? I, for one, have been on the receiving end of being let down on numerous occasions by the same people, and from experience, I can say that it can be disheartening and frustrating. But it has opened my eyes to how people can be, and given me insight into the way forgiveness can and should be shown.

It all depends on the situation and the person at hand. This covers several fields; the relationship you have with said person, their integrity, and the act that they continue to carry out, or to omit from doing. In addition to this, what also comes into play is to what extent their actions affect you, how you have responded in the past, and what they have subsequently done thereafter.

A mistake is defined as; an act or judgement that is misguided or wrong. As humans, we are allowed to make mistakes because it gives us the opportunity to learn from the experience and do better in the future. However, as the saying goes, ‘We are what we repeatedly do’, so if a person continues to make the same mistake it shows a lack of care, growth, and a personal choice to continue to behave this way. A personal choice to make the wrong decision in a situation, which is the point where I would say, they begin to take liberties. And once people begin to take liberties, in my opinion, they show themselves to be presumptuous, impertinent and audacious. In other words, they lack respect, and have no problem in showing it. This goes for relationships at any level; be it associates, colleagues, acquaintances, friends or family members.

The worst part about people who let us down repeatedly, is that a lot of the time, on the other hand, they can be lovely people. They can be caring, funny, considerate and great to be around. However, a person who repeatedly lets you down, repeatedly makes you feel bad about yourself, repeatedly is not there for you, and repeatedly says or does things to you which you have made clear you do not like, do not approve of, do not want, or do not appreciate, is undependable, unreliable and fickle. There is only so many times you can make allowances for someone. You shouldn’t have to feel exhausted and tired of making excuses for the same person over and over again; there has to be a point where you say ‘No more. Enough is enough.’

I definitely believe that if we ever find ourselves in situations like these, we have the right to put a stop to it. Be that, with of without the knowledge of the other person. Oftentimes it can be better if the other person does not know you have decided not to grant them anymore chances, as they can be known to wear you down or talk you out of it. But sometimes, it is good to give people a piece of your mind, and let them know just how they have made you feel. It can be humbling and eye opening for them. However, it is up to you to discern how the person will react and whether this method will be effective in your personal situation. Nevertheless, the option still stands for you to take action on your own terms, without the other person knowing. You can make a personal decision to distance yourself from the situation. This doesn’t have to mean cutting yourself off from the person completely, but perhaps just lowering your expectations of them and choosing not to continue to put yourself in a place where you can allow them to do what they usually do.

For example, if you constantly invite someone to your birthday party each year and they constantly make excuses as to why they can’t make it; don’t invite them any more. It doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with them; it just means you are saving yourself from unnecessary stress and aggravation. Another example; if you are constantly left out from group activities, don’t expect to be invited, and then you will find that you won’t care. Let me clarify what I mean by this; by accepting this fact, you are simply accepting that you are not doing anything wrong on your part, but it is the other person who is being bitter, which is unflattering and juvenile. You will often find that petty behaviour like the aforementioned can be quite humorous once you see it for what it really is; childish. In saying this, I am not discrediting the act of forgiveness; on the contrary. You may have heard the saying ‘Forgive and forget’, well I think we should ‘forgive and accept’.

To forgive is to ‘simply stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake’, and to accept is to ‘take what is offered.’ Therefore in doing this, you are deciding not to waste time and energy on the negativity that people present you with.

To reiterate this, here is a video of Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama discussing forgiveness, which more or less follows what I’m saying:

At the end of the day, we all have our flaws, and none of us are perfect, however, I believe we should all strive to better ourselves and learn from our experiences in order to grow. And to grow, sometimes we need to let go of certain things that may be holding us back. At the end of the day, we all grow and different speeds, and life has a funny way of showing us this, so don’t be disheartened if you have to distance yourself from certain people, as not only are you bettering yourself, but you are setting an example for others. Whether or not they choose to accept that is their choice. But it is important to remember that your priority should be your own happiness and you shouldn’t let other people take it away.

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Let’s Talk About… (#7) – Being the Bigger Person

Often, for no apparent reason, people may seemingly dislike you or treat you a little more coarsely than they treat others. The most obvious explanations would be that they are  jealous, or have their own issues or have low self-esteem. Whatever the case may be, it often leaves you feeling, if not upset, then confused about why they treat you the way they do. As children, we would refer to these people as ‘playground bullies’, but in reality, you can encounter bullies at any age.

The thing about situations like these is that a lot of the time when you try to confide in someone you trust and explain to them how the other person is making you feel, the response is usually; “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you’re just imagining it!”, or “Just ignore them and they’ll get bored and leave you alone” or the worst response you could possibly hear; “Well you must be doing something to annoy them!”. Unfortunately, when the other person is subtle in their ways, in that it is only noticeable to you, then it is near impossible for another person to understand how you feel and how hurtful it can be. In addition to this, it’s often as if these people know exactly when to strike; either when you’re having a really  good day, or perhaps when you’re having a rubbish day; right on cue, they come along with a snide comment to ruin your day. It can get to the point where you dread going somewhere for fear of seeing that person.

In my work environment, I experience these types of scenarios pretty often; be it from a manager or even customers. For example, when managers make jokes which they think are funny but are at your expense and expect you to laugh with them, or when customers are impatient/rude/demanding/insulting/racist. It can be exhausting having to smile through it all. However, that is exactly what you must do. Think about it; if people are so bitter that they would try to make someone else miserable, then why give them the satisfaction and allow them to drag you down to their level and join them in Mopeyville?

What I have realised is that when people behave in this manner they are simply reflecting their own personal issues and feelings. You should feel sorry for them; why would you want to make someone feel bad about themself just because you do. In reality, when you do feel bad about yourself, the best way to make yourself feel happier is to bring joy to other people. In this case, even if you are doing something to annoy them, then it’s being nice, and who can really complain that someone is being nice to them? There is a classic saying; ‘Kill them with kindness’, and that is literally your best bet. It will frustrate the other person even more until they see the error in their ways. A lot of the time, you may never know that the other person acknowledges the error in their ways and you may never get an apology, but at least you will have a clear conscience as you did nothing to aggravate the situation on your part.

All this is not to say that you should smile through someone taking advantage of you or persistently bringing you down and being either verbally or physically abusive towards you. In some cases, it is definitely necessary to speak out and stand up to the other person; to defend yourself. The message of this post it to not allow others to diminish your happiness on account of their bitterness and ‘hateration’.

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