Updated: Jan 16
To forgive is one of those holier-than-thou-acts, right?
Too bad I find it somewhat formless in design - like, how exactly does one forgive?
How do we know when the forgiving is complete?
Why can we forgive some so easily and hold others to the fire for trivial acts?
Forgiveness seems pretty uneven in application, and even more confusing when trying to explain it?!
And if I can’t systemize the damn thing, well …
Allow me to explain, because it’s like, when your UX Designer tells you they are surprised you can pull off that plaid blazer and polka-dot shirt combo. And it's clearly not a compliment. How could they commit this unforgivable act of judgement, and publicly nonetheless (and the shame).
But then your best friend raises their eyebrows as you sit down for dinner and tells you the pattern combo gives them seizures, and everyone laughs, forgetting the comment as soon as it landed.
Oh you knew this was coming, it’s your perspective.
Sure I used a silly example, but what about when your business partner “purposefully” covers up a significant capital “withdrawal,” or an employee “blatantly” lies about a "sick" day. The “energy” (coach-speak for your judgement) is conveyed by the double quotations.
When we find ourselves overreacting, which simply means, your reaction does anything else other then serve you, we are giving too much energy to the situation (one way or the other).
If someone does or says something that cuts to the core, ask yourself why this comment pushed your button!
I can guarantee, 99% of the time, the accused isn’t trying to break your spirit. Look, sure - they may be passive aggressive or offering a back-handed compliment as some weird powerplay, they may have made a significant error in judgement, but don’t let this destroy your faith in humanity.
When someone does commit an act of defiance and really breaks you, ruminating, ranting, even revenge won’t change the past nor will it alleviate your suffering.
So, how do we move on? We forgive.
Now I did not say forget. I did not say let go.
Forgiveness is on the same level as accepting, settling, and compartmentalizing. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s not inspiring, but it ain’t crushing.
Here’s some tips on how to forgive:
Find some forgiveness inspo - think Nelson Mandella, Elie Weisel, or someone a little more accessible, Brenda Adleman (her dad shot her mom to be with her mom’s sister, I mean … ) Now those are some personal examples, sure. I usually talk about business, 100%. Here’s the thing, every dissolved partnership ever, of which there are far too many to list, either destroy the business OR get to a place of forgiveness, so … find your shining light example. The point is not who, or what, but how.
Compassion is the next step towards forgiveness. The all too familiar serenity prayer is a fantastic reminder of “the how” in how to forgive. Ask for the ”grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”
When you can level up from acceptance to a space of understanding, the world changes instantly. Instead of people hurting you, they are hurting themselves, and our hearts connect. Instead of liars and greed and pain, there is desperation, survival and strength.
We can’t undo the past, but we can rewrite the story. If we start with a narrative of understanding and compassion, the antagonist transforms into the hero/ine/non-binary star of the show, or maybe even the teacher.
Perhaps the hero’s journey ensues, and the painful suffering becomes the transformational peak, that once summited, offers YOU, the protagonist the strength, trust and proof that you can do anything!
Including, figure out how to forgive.