I first wrote this article in December 2015, during the 12 months I spent living and working in Qatar and, felt at that time, I was in a good place where I can put pen to paper and write about forgiveness and the how one can be damaged by not being able to forgive others, by unforgiving and unwarranted behaviour from acquaintances, close friends and even family.
So… Let’s fast-forward 29 months down the road to the present day… Have there been any changes? Yes, there have been changes and improvement but, there has also been other challenges to replace the ones that are no longer deemed challenging!
Ironic isn’t it, you think everything is going to be better… then you get slapped with another problem or issue with its very own modus operandi!
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at the RISE Conference, City Hall, London and, more recently, at the Unlocking the Door to Your Next Chapter Conference, held in Ipswich. Talking to some of the attendees at both conferences, convinced me to repost this article as they could relate to content delivered in both presentations.
Speaking from the Heart
I love what I do… As an Emotional Intelligence Coach and Leadership Consultant, my target audience is varied and the suite of offerings provided range from workshops, coaching or even speaking assignments where I share life experiences and my own journey. People are my #Passion and I really enjoy gaining their perspective on Life and, the challenging gifts it brings us all on a daily basis without fail!
I had a conversation with a friend recently and, it was centered around learning and support networks, and the support gained whilst individuals are working towards their business goals and aspirations or chosen career pathways. She used the terminology ‘building up and tearing down’ with regards to some support networks and supposed collaborations and, I was intrigued as to where our conversation was heading as, her words so reminded me of the original article I had written and posted here on LinkedIn all those months ago…
Anyway, during our conversation my friend said… “don’t act surprised when your friend with the listening ear… becomes your enemy with their venomous mouth”! I probed and asked if she was quoting something she had read or was she was speaking from experience… She responded that it was a bit of both! She went on to say that the worst thing about it was that she actually hadn’t done anything to the so called friend and, they shared quite a few friends so, when the relationship started to strain, the so called friends they shared, seemed to not be as responsive or friendly as they had been before.
It soon became apparent that the friend had been drip feeding poison about her to friends they shared and, rather than find out what the truth is… simply believed her!! I was sad for her but, could totally relate to what she had shared with me. It totally reminded me of another article I had written entitled: “When you look in the mirror… what do you see?” The type of attitude and behaviour my friend experienced was similar to what was written in the article.
The first cut is the deepest
We’ve all been hurt at some point in our lives, whether the hurt was from a friend, family member and/or loved ones or even colleague(s) in your working environment. Either way, you’ve been hurt deeply. Being hurt is very painful, it knocks the wind out of your sails and, you spend a lot of time racking your brains as to why it happened… and more to the point, why did it happen to you!
So… you’re hurting… what you do you do?
How do you ease the painful memory of the hurt you are currently feeling; whether it’s emotional or physical hurt, there’s no BIG or small hurt… Hurt is hurt!
Now… let’s be honest… When you are hurting, what are things that go through your mind?
* Are you one of those individuals who will sit down and brood over the incident, letting it consume your every waking thoughts and/or sleeping hours?
* Or… are you the type of person who will lie awake night after night; rivalling Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre writings; totally consumed in plotting how you will exact your revenge on the person(s) who caused you this deep seemingly bottomless chasm of hurt and pain?
* Then again… we come to the type of person who will nurse their hurt and pain for years like a newborn baby; feeding it, nurturing it and, as this hurt is being nursed, like all newborn babies, it will start growing!
I must say… Holding onto such pain, anger and bitterness is not good or healthy for anyone.
Ruminating endlessly about the past; on what was said to or about you or, what was done to you by this individual(s) is not going to give you release or the peace you seek. You are allowing the situation and/or individual(s) to basically live rent free in your head and heart!!
There…. I’ve said it and it is true and, if you’re honest with yourself… you’ll agree.
You see, Hurt is consistently looking to be fed to survive and, if fed, like a cancerous growth, it will grow and consume everything it comes into contact with. No one wants to be seen as a bitter person holding onto hurt; grudges or bitterness as if their whole life depended upon it. But this is exactly what happens when someone is hurt and doesn’t learn to let it go, forgive and move on. If incubated, hurt will then turn into something very ugly with the original hurt no longer in the picture just bitterness and sometimes the need for revenge.
I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend who was subjected to the wrath of what seemed to be a very bitter individual. It was so bad, that any project undertaken, input given in meetings or any form of social occasion that this person was involved in made her a ‘moving target’ for this individual to vent her spleen on and, exact her revenge against. Apparently, all of this unwarranted attention seems to have been fuelled by initial hurt feelings on the other persons’ part purely because they felt they were being excluded in some way with events that were happening within the organisation. The initial hurt feelings were soon replaced with jealousy, snide remarks, career assassination and sabotage; which has evolved over a period of time into a bitter and somewhat vindictive monster and, to make matters worse… the person who used to be friendly and ethical in their approach has turned into someone that is quite unrecognisable now!
I’m sure if the person was sat down and asked why they have this vendetta against the individual they are bullying… Now… let’s not pretend, let’s call it out, as this is what they were doing… bullying. If asked, “Why?” They wouldn’t be able to articulate what the person actually did to them personally that caused the initial hurt they felt. In fact, (and I would put money on it), if they started to recall from their own perspective, what this person had actually done to them, one would sense (if your eyes were closed), that you had been transported back to your childhood and, you were in the school playground with the bully and their minions!
At times, it will certainly feel that we haven’t actually left school and, the school bully is always in the vicinity… more so in the working environment, as we spend so long at in the working environment! If you think back to your school days… there always seemed to be one or two individuals who seemed to be singled out by the ‘school bully’ and his/her followers, who would side with the bully not because they agree with them… Basically, survival instincts would kick in and they will align themselves just so they are not picked on too! This meant the individual(s) were treated as ‘persona non grata’ and unceremoniously ostracised and shunned by all who follow the bully.
Someone once said that ‘Bitterness is Unforgiveness fermented’ and of course when you look at the family tree… is Wrath’s little sister. Quite harsh now when you look at it up close and personal, especially to be seen by others as a bitter person is somewhat unpalatable.
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." ~Mahatma Gandhi~
Freedom from the shackles that bind
So now we’ve seen the cold stark reality and evolution of hurt. How do we let go of this hurt, forgive the individual(s) and, more to the point, learn to move on with life free from being anchored to the pain?
Outlined below are some things you can take onboard, which may help you on the road to forgiveness, where you begin to overcome these deep rooted feelings that have permeated your core thoughts and ultimately govern your behaviour and actions.
1. Learning to Let Go: Your hurt and the pain you feel won’t disappear on its own. You have to make a commitment to let it go. Again, you have to want to let it go, and continue with your life before you were hurt. You had a life… remember? You see whilst you’ve been hurt, you’ve been in a situation not unlike the film ‘Groundhog Day’! Every day the same thing happens and, as much as you want to change it with slight modifications invariably, the road leads back to the same situation where the feelings of hurt are there to greet you in the morning.
Remember: Making that concerted effort and decision to let your hurt go, means accepting you have a choice to let it go. You always had… but you have to really want to let go of it, which will then lead to your release from being anchored to it. The pain won’t disappear overnight. It will ease each day once you’ve accepted what has happened to you and you have reconciled with this, and are ready to truly let go of it all and move on.
2. Stop the ‘Scratched Record’: When hurt some individuals have a tendency to tell and retell their painful experience over and over not only in their heads but, will tell anyone who will listen to them talk about their experience of hurt over and over.
Now is a good time to stop the badly scratched record!!
It’s good to talk to experts who you feel can help you transition from this experience onto a pathway which helps the individual to move towards healing and restoration of their vitality and zest for life they had before the hurt, but the person must want to do this and, be willing to let go of the hurt and pain that they have been keeping alive.
Remember: although one may have good friends who will listen to you talk about your hurt, there is always a ‘tipping’ point. Sometimes, this can get to them too, as they will start feeling overwhelmed and see that individual can’t see beyond their hurt, as every conversation they seem to have, invariably will always lead back to the individual, their hurt and/or the person who has hurt them. STOP IT!!! You are not a scratched record, stop recalling the hurt and pain, people will only listen and empathise with you for so long... after a time… all their empathy for your situation and your pain will deplete and they will avoid you at all costs.
3. Forgiveness: Learn to forgive individual(s) that hurt you. It doesn’t mean you will forget you have been hurt and the pain it has caused you; you are merely releasing yourself from them, because whilst you have been lost in the emotional turmoil of hurt, you’ve been anchored to them. Forgiveness allow you to free up the much needed energy to start healing and moving on from the hurt, pain, deep wound and/or scars that you are left with.
Remember: forgiveness does not need their consent. It is more for you and the fact that you have taken back your authority and control over the situation. Learn to forgive yourself too as this is an important part of this step as well, because sometimes you may well end up blaming yourself for letting yourself get into the situation in the first place.
4. Feel Compassion: On your road to forgiveness, you must realise that the person who hurt you may also be hurting to… or not!! Either way, you need to feel empathy for them and wish them happiness. Feel it and mean it within your heart, then you can truly say you forgive them. There are many reasons why people hurt other people. In time, the compassion will envelope you (once you truly let go and forgive), you will then be able to see the person smile, greet them (if you see them often in work or social gatherings) and wish them well. This gives you the inner peace you have been seeking and, will truly sever the ties that bind you to the original hurt and pain.
Remember: it doesn’t mean that you have to invite the person back into your life to commit the act again but, unfortunately, this does happen, sometimes quite a few times before the situation is concluded once and for all. None-the-less, one should feel compassion for them as, this means that you truly can forgive them and move on with your life.
5. Seek Professional Help: If the pain and bitter feelings you may be having, won’t let up and give you respite even after you’ve tried all of the above, it’s time to seek professional help. Working with a professional can help you see possibilities that your pain has blinded you to and, more to the point, you will gain invaluable tools and techniques to help you heal the hurt and wounds that are holding you back. Only seek professional help if you really need it and, consider working through your feelings and deeper underlying issues with a therapist who is specially trained to help you unpick and make sense of your feelings.
Remember: there is no shame in seeking help from a professional. They will help you come to terms with the situation and help you onto the path that leads to healing; with a non-judgemental and impartial approach and, to be honest, they are best suited than any friend or relative to help you to transition out of your hurt and painful experience.
6. Clean Your Slate to Move On: In order to move on with your life and gain the peace you so long for, think about writing things down in a journal or if it’s an individual that has hurt you, try writing a letter to them outlining exactly what they had done to you and how it made you feel. You can choose to send it to the person or just use it as a means to out pour your feelings in word. You may want to keep it or burn it, the choice is totally yours. This could be seen as the final act of forgiving and really letting go of something that has held you captive for a considerable amount of time.
Remember: moving on enables you to free yourself from all the hurt, anger and pain but, moreover, it enables the individual to learn to laugh, feel joy and look forward to other things that they have been robbed of whilst under this cloud of hurt.
What stops us is in fact us… We spend far too much time going over the hurt and pain we felt and basically, keeping it alive and raw.
As we journey throughout the remainder of 2018, I'm in no doubt that we will have many more trials, tribulations and challenges to face but, we can be rest assured, if we take the necessary steps and make that decision to stand firm and slough off the hurt, pain, or whatever it is that has been holding you back from achieving and succeeding all your goals and aspirations will ease up for you to really move on.
I’m sure the person(s) are not losing any sleep whilst you are agonising over what they did or what was said to hurt you! So… why, oh why are you letting them live rent free in your head and your heart?? Evict them now!!