Friday, April 17, 2015

Forgiveness & Nonexistent Apologies



by Gabi Pinto-Coelho


For most people making positive change in their lives, there usually comes a time when you start looking at your relationships. You celebrate the ones that are positive influences in your life, you let go of long-gone relationships that kept you down in the past, and you start to examine (and re-examine) the rest. That gray area can be pretty ugly, but that’s where the real growth happens, in my opinion.

This gray area includes relationships with people that have hurt you (for the purposes of this blog, I am only talking about emotional/psychological pain). Some people stay in relationships feeling constantly hurt, but keep trying to make things work for any number of reasons. Others might respond to the pain they feel by holding a grudge. In reality, neither of these options is “moving on” from the situation.

If you are continuing to hold onto a relationship that keeps bringing you down emotionally, there are some important questions to ask yourself. In this case, you’ve got to consider:
  • ·         Is this relationship worth my time, my emotions, and my energy?
  • ·         What would my life be like without this relationship, as it stands now?
  • ·         If you are trying to change this relationship, is it just you that wants change or is the     other person invested in change, too? 
  •        Has this other person demonstrated his/her willingness to change or have they only     talked about it?

You get the picture here - you have to decide if the other person deserves you and everything you have to offer.

I’m certainly not a therapist, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist. But, I am a human being who has had to cut people out of my life. An ex-boyfriend that I dated for several years was caring but extremely depressed. Much of our relationship involved me trying to “fix” him and make him feel better. My lack of “success” in this endeavor made me feel like I wasn’t enough. The idea of breaking up with him because he couldn’t be an equal partner in the relationship seemed cruel and cold. But after three years, I realized that it is not my responsibility to fix someone else. 

Everyone comes to their own conclusions in their own time, and it is never easy. However, if you decide that someone not worth your energy, you’ve got to cut the cord. If you decide it is worth it, then you need to set some boundaries for yourself. How do you know when you are giving too much? What does the other person need to do to demonstrate a change in behavior? There are no easy questions or simple answers, that’s for sure.

Sometimes this whole “cutting of the cord” can happen way too rigidly, and that’s how grudges happen. I have an incredibly strong, insightful, loving, intelligent, and funny father. But he will be the first to admit that he is a grudge-holder. His current record for grudge-holding is a whopping 13 years. When he thinks someone has “wronged” him, he is so adamant about cutting ties that he refuses to forgive. In his attempt to prevent putting effort into unworthy relationships, he is actually spending more energy on being angry. An oft-mentioned quote on grudges says, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”


Ultimately, it’s not only about cutting the cord, it’s about how you cut it. Too often in the process, we get hung up on whether someone else apologizes and if it’s sincere or adequate. In reality, the apology is irrelevant. After you’ve decided something is not worth your energy, anything else remotely positive is gravy. 

It seems a little radical, but what you should really be focused on is forgiveness. Without forgiving the offending party, you end up holding a grudge. Forgiveness is not an admission that the other person is “right” or “deserving.” Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with you and your own peace & happiness. 

Forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself so that you can let go and move on.