Mental Health: The Importance Of Forgiveness

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Have you ever had a terrible falling out with someone? You know the ones that you swear you’ll never make-up from? So have I.

I’ve had tons of relationships over the years and some of them just didn’t work out. These were with friends, lovers and acquaintances. Some were mild but some stung so bad that they deeply affected me even in the aftermath of our row. You love and trust someone and they let you down: being wronged can be very painful and I can understand why some people have problems forming lasting relationships with people after being hurt – the memories of failed past attempts hinder the blossoming of new beginnings.

I can recall a few messy endings I’ve had with people and let me tell you, it is not easy to forgive your transgressor. I’ve held onto bitterness and anger from friends who’ve stolen from me or stabbed me in the back, lovers who’ve used me and everything in between and I recently let all that pain go. How did I achieve this uplifting accomplishment? Let me tell you.

I’m the type to overthink so I racked my brain endlessly thinking about the dirt that people have done me and it wasn’t comfortable. Some late nights I stayed up with a heart full of regret and hindsight – “I knew I shouldn’t have”, “If only I’d”, were the beginnings to all my bashful ruminations. These thoughts just flow naturally when you’re recovering from a bad experience. To tell you to shut them out would be irresponsible because I didn’t; I let all my mean and corrosive thoughts flow right through me up until they emptied out. I no longer think bad thoughts of my “enemies”, in fact, I hardly think of them at all.

On the off day that I do recall a bad memory, I try to switch up the perspective and approach the issue with a wider lens. I zoom out and look at the bigger picture (Corny right?). I know you’ve been told this a million times before but hear me out – Did you ever stop to think why so and so did you dirty? Did it ever dawn on you that they may have had a moment of weakness like all humans do? Did you ever wade through the rage-filled cloud in your head and for once quietly think on the matter? If you answered no to more than 3 of these questions, you’ve got some thinking to do.

The truth is, we all make mistakes, I’m sure you too have made a bad decision that negatively affected you. You have hurt yourself many times, and when you do, you must forgive yourself along with those that hurt you as well. Forgiveness seems a farfetched concept because it’s easier said than done. We all have hang-ups that are easily triggered, issues we dare not unpack and old wounds that are yet to scab over – all these things that ail us would be quickly remedied if we put in the work and tried to forgive – forgive those who’ve hurt you and most importantly, forgive yourself.

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There are truly troubled people out there and they take advantage of people. This is most likely a result of their past and upbringing – the unresolved trauma leads them to take out their pain on other people – hurt people hurt people.

I always excuse those aching souls with the mentality of non-expectance. I see their ways from early and I don’t expect them to be good to me because they are incapable of meeting those standards. My pain has enhanced my censors for harmful experiences and people so I now care for myself more efficiently. I no longer expect people to do good things so when they do let me down, I don’t get hurt because that’s just how they are.

They say forgiveness isn’t for the one who inflicted the pain, but the one who was hurt. Life is short, forgive when you can, it’s better for you.

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20 something-year-old woman, living and learning in Nairobi.