One of the hardest things a person can do is let go of a gripe. Holding on to a gripe can make you feel vindicated, right, or give you something to think about when your mind is drifting. It’s much easier to hold on to our anger than it is to let it go and to forgive.
As parents, we have myriad of tasks to focus on. We don’t have a lot of spare time or energy on our hands to just … be leisurely. We go go go because our kids go go go. And we have to keep up with them. When they are younger, it’s playdates and constant care and ‘Don’t put that in your mouth!’ As they age, they enter the realm of sports and it’s one practice after a game after a uniform check. Go go go. Parents don’t have a lot of time for self-reflection. I get it.
The thing is, though, that in order to successfully navigate through this extraordinarily busy life, parents also need a wealth of tools at our disposal, and having a store of positive energy is one of those very useful tools. Having and tending kids is hard work; you don’t have a lot of time during the day to recoup what energy you are using. Things and thoughts that sap that positive energy are not doing you any good. Carrying around the burden of anger or a grudge against someone, regardless of how much time you spend on it daily, will be a hit on your positive state of mind.
What can you do about it? Work hard at forgiving that person, whomever they may be and however they may have wronged you. Work very hard, because it is not an easy task, especially if you have carried around the burden for an extended period of time. Your effort will be rewarded by a better state of mind, and a more positive outlook. You and the more positive relationships that you enjoy will benefit from ridding your mind of that negative energy.
When I was younger, I was in a relationship that was not particularly positive. I didn’t realize how negative the situation was, but my family did. They tried to talk to me but I was blind to the situation (ah, young love. You know how it can be). This went on for an extended period of time. Thankfully, after some time, I finally realized that I didn’t really like whom I was in the relationship and that I was done with it. I also realized that regardless of how poorly the other person in the relationship treated me, I was at fault as well because I allowed it to happen and to continue happening. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that carrying the grudge against this person wasn’t going to help me. Instead, I could learn from my mistakes in the relationship, and do better next time. I also realized that if I couldn’t forgive him, I wouldn’t be able to move on to having a next time. I am a better person for having met this person and spent time with him. I can appreciate what positives there were in the relationship and now can count this person as a friend. I forgave him, and moved on. I am not generally one to dwell anyway, but the negative energy from being angry just pulled me down. Owning my own responsibilities in the relationship is also a step toward moving past it; it takes two to tango, and it takes two to both make and unmake a relationship. Without telling this person how I felt, or how I wasn’t benefiting from the situation, how could he have known what he was doing wrong? It’s important to speak up for yourself, too, and forgive your own part in something that isn’t positive.
What does this have to do with parenting? It does, trust me. It comes down to relationships. It comes down to being open and being able to give of yourself freely. It comes down to not wasting time and especially energy on something that is not productive nor helpful. It comes down to you, as a parent, being genuinely present.
To forgive someone, you don’t have to verbally tell that person. You don’t have to write a letter and mail it. You don’t have to do anything you are not comfortable doing. What you do have to do is acknowledge that you have been hurt. You have to be the bigger person, and realize your role – however negative – in the situation. You have to forgive yourself for your role in the situation. And you have to set limits for how you will (or won’t) let this person back in your life. Lastly, you have to be patient, because you will not move on immediately. It takes time to heal. Once these steps have all been accomplished, you will be able to begin the process of moving on.
I did it. I think I’m a better person for it. I know you can do it too.