Every one of us at some stage in our life has messed up. We have hurt and been hurt by someone we deeply care for. A family member, a friend, an ex-partner, maybe even all three, maybe even more than once. It only makes us human. We are all flawed and to think otherwise is only putting unrealistic expeditions on ourselves and others. I am a firm believer in second chances. The person who messed up makes a sincere apology, while changing their behaviour to prove with their actions that they have changed, and you both move on with life.
Putting up walls may block hurt out, but it also blocks out happiness. Instead we all need to have boundaries. To give and receive a level of respect we are happy with, but where does the line between forgiving others for making mistakes and setting our standard for how we allow others to treat us form?
If someone is treating you badly for a long period of time, that is only because you have allowed it. You have not set your boundaries with them, and they for whatever reason believe it is oaky to treat you in that manner. You may be angry with them, but you have to take ownership of the part you have also played. Have you ever noticed that the same person can treat other people in totally different ways? That is because of the boundaries other people have set with them. If someone hurts you, you have to tell them. It is one of two things; one they simply did not know that their actions hurt you, they sincerely apologise and never do it again because they genuinely care for you and want to have you on their life, or they may or may not say sorry but they will do it to you again because deep down they simply don’t care about you and are only interested in what benefits them.
Only you can set your standards. Cutting some people from your life might be emotionally difficult at the start, but you will learn that those people came into your life to teach you a lesson and to leave again. The most simplistic way to know if someone is a positive or negative influence in your life is to see how you feel directly after you spend time with them. Did they lift your spirits? Are you happy you met them, or are you happy that you finally get to leave? If someone is not a positive influence in your life, then why are you spending time with them? If someone hurts you and does not seem to care, does it really matter if you can see the good in them, when none of that good is being given to you? You don’t have to hate the person, but that doesn’t mean you should have them in your life either. This is where forgiveness and acceptance collide.
Forgiving allows you to release the pain you are feeling. To forgive is to benefit us not the other person. Accepting is a completely different thing. Here are two examples that come to mind. One: We can forgive someone who cheated on us but that person can never be our partner again, because cheating is something we will not accept no matter how sorry the other person is. Two: We may have a goal in mind, to be an actor, to write a book, to swim the channel. A family member thinks this is madness but instead of thinking “well this is something I don’t understand, but I will support you because this is your dream” They mock or say “you can’t do it”. That is not acceptable. Those would be my standards, yours may differ but hopefully you understand the point I am trying to express here.
So with the New Year, people are coming out of the wood-works and wanting it to be “The New Year, New Me” people. Whoever approaches you to apologise for hurting you in the past, make sure you know where your boundaries lie. If you are the one making apologies, be sincere. If you would do it again, maybe apologies and walk away. Life is too short for fake relationships with people. Be true to you.