“I forgive myself,” I said and breathed out. It felt nice.
It might sound like a cringy voodoo schmoodo ritual, but I’ve recently begun to use the power of words of affirmation to forgive every single person who has hurt me in the past, including myself.
I say it out loud, going through the list until I reach the bottom. “I forgive that girl who bullied me in 7th grade.” I don’t much care about that girl anymore, but in moments of pettiness, I still vividly recall her calling me a hippo and laughing with her besties.
Who knows what the hell she meant by that. I felt embarrassed, though. What she did doesn’t have much bearing on my present well-being, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. So I count her in.
And why did I start doing this in the first place?
Because I’m the queen of holding grudges. I try really hard to move on, but many grudges from the past still cling onto me like a shadow that stretches on for miles and miles, recounting every single time I got hurt by someone over and over again.
It’s ridiculous. Who cares that I had my heart broken at 14?
My ego does. And so does the ego of many other people — we just simply can’t get over the fact that we’ve been somehow massively wronged in our lives, and nobody wants to come and fix it.
The problem is that the only person who can correct these mistakes of others is yourself.
I know, it’s not fair. But just like you have hurt others and, in most cases, don’t feel sorry for it now because you’ve likely forgotten most of these events, others have moved on with their lives. That girl from 7th grade might not even remember me. If I texted her demanding an apology for something she did 9 years ago, she’d probably leave me on seen thinking I’m some kind of freak.
And what would an apology do anyway? Would it magically make those times I was terrified to go to school disappear? I don’t think so.
It’s all left up to me to deal with, with or without an apology.
There are much bigger and worse grudges I have, though. These are cases where I hurt a lot as a child, which led to my developing many mental health issues and generally being a bit too insane for most people’s tastes (thank God my partner isn’t one of them). Holding grudges is one of those resulting problems, which is a bit ironic.
I’m holding a grudge for having been made me into the person that holds a grudge. Among many other grudges, of course.
In these cases, it would actually help to some extent to receive a proper apology. The thing is, this person will probably only apologize when the sun sets in the East and the Earth gets hit by a meteorite full of screaming aliens.
One can keep on dreaming.
Seriously, though. Here I am, consumed by anger and wishing for some sort of acknowledgement, for some apology that is actually meant rather than thrown into the wind just because, while the planet keeps on spinning and my mental health keeps on making no progress whatsoever in this regard because I don’t offer myself a helping hand.
I expect someone to come and say, “I can see how much you’ve suffered. I feel for you and I empathize with how many obstacles you’ve had to overcome to be here. I apologize for the pain I’ve caused you, and everyone around you.”
Some people have already said similar things, though, and yet here I am, writing an article about holding grudges. Having your feelings acknowledged a decade too little too late apparently doesn’t help.
Here’s what has a real potential of helping.
Be exactly what you need.
It’s way too easy to develop a victim’s mentality. The world hurt you and it’s not your fault. You’re helpless, bitter and angry.
Nobody can fix the world for you. No one will appear in your memories out of nowhere and make everything alright. People will rarely apologize to you, and nobody will acknowledge your pain completely because you’re the only person who actually knows the full extent of it.
The way out of this rut is to be your best friend, your lover, the primary care-taker you wish you had as a child. Only you know what you truly need. And only you can give that to yourself.
When your past-self is hurting, be the friend who makes them laugh, who hugs them, who takes them out for a nice meal.
When the child inside of you cries out for attention and validation, be the adult they need and promise them you’ll take care of them. Caress your own skin, tell yourself you love yourself and take it easy.
Develop a mindset of self-sufficiency where you can be the adult responsible for the child inside you, where you’re the one who makes everything okay. The only human you’ll ever be able to truly count on is the one that lives inside your skin.
It’s annoying but it’s true.
When you hold a grudge, it benefits nobody. The receiver of your anger rarely knows what’s going on, and you end up being the one who suffers. You suffer in order to feel like your past suffering is being acknowledged, which only brings about more suffering while you walk in circles of self-pity.
I know what I’m talking about.
Your mind needs to heal, and as hard as it is, forgiveness is the best cure. Forgive everyone who hurt you. Most of all, forgive yourself. You need it. We all do.
I know how hard reaching true forgiveness is, so there’s no need to rush or push yourself. Just give yourself time. Take it step by step. Give my little ritual a try — it’s really not as cringy as it sounds.
Instead of relying on somebody else to save you, be your own superhero.
“I can see how much I’ve suffered. I feel for how much I’ve hurt and how many obstacles I’ve had to overcome to stand here today. I’m ready to forgive.”
This is only one of many things you can tell yourself to structure your thoughts in a way that helps you feel better.
I hope that one day, I’ll reach a state of peaceful forgiveness. I hope we all do. The mindset and ritual I’ve described here can help.