Michelle is a self-love and wellness coach on her personal healing journey. She empowers others through her experiences.
Why do we forgive others?
Forgiveness, I have learned over time, is not about the other person at all. It is about freeing your soul of any negative energy it may be withholding along with the anger, resentment, and hurt you may be feeling caused by this other person. It is about you releasing these emotions and bringing yourself back to a peaceful, balanced mindset. When we forgive someone's actions, it is not to say that you approve their actions or are letting them slide, it is to say you will not allow their actions to affect you and your life.
We often have this misconception that forgiveness means we are allowing their actions to go unpunished. This is not true. The "punishment" comes after the forgiveness when you decide whether you want to continue a relationship with this person or not and how much access they will have to you. The forgiving part is to release you of the attachment to this person so that you can focus on healing and moving on.
Do I have to let them come back into my life?
The short answer is no.
Whether you let a person come back into your life is entirely up to you. Just because you forgave someone, it doesn't mean that they automatically earn their spot back. Your life's decisions should always be based on yourself and your needs, for example, if you need peace, letting someone toxic into your life wouldn't be the best decision. Sometimes, we can also be the toxic person so either way, whether you're doing yourself the favour or doing them a favour.
Most times, people you forgive think that they can continue with the relationship as it was so it is up to you to lay your boundaries. It is your responsibility to show others how you would like to be treated.
An apology is nice. Forgiving them is crucial. But, allowing them back into your life based on these two things alone is not enough to have a healthier relationship. People need to be told how to treat others. People need to be reminded that if they treat others poorly, they will lose them. If you don't take control of who you allow around you, you will find yourself facing abuse and they will think it's okay to treat you this way.
For example, I have not had a relationship with my parents or brother in a few years. They treated me poorly my entirely life and three years ago, I put a stop to it. I distanced myself. I started focusing on healing. I said no more often. I have forgiven them for their actions to release myself of the attachment and any negative energy I may have been harboring towards them, but I am not allowing them back into my life as they were. Recently, my dad planned a vacation type gathering and I was invited. I politely declined informing him that I was working. He implied that it wasn't the only reason and I exlained to him that I had a lot going on and I had to focus on my mental health right now. He continued with the usual guilt trip and we said goodbye. In the same breath, my brother asked me if I was joining them on vacation and I replied a simple no. "Why not", he asked. I replied that I had my reasons. I try to keep the socialising focused on the girls and the relationship my family has with them.
Then I asked myself, "do they really not know why I wouldn't want to join them?" You would say, well you work, why would they think anything else of it. Because, it's my family. Not being able to take off work is not a legitimate reason. No, there has to be something else. So, I took time out of my day to write them a letter. I laid out all the things they had done in the past to hurt me. I reassured them that I wasn't attacking them but simply explaining my distance. I also added that I expected better treatment when they were ready. This letter was for them but mostly for me. In giving them this letter, I am releasing the last little bit from my soul. The last bit of honesty of how their actions affected me. I am laying down my honesty to put a stop to any confusion or questions they may have regarding my behavior towards them. My letters explain to them what they did, how it affected me, and how I expect to be treated in the future. Lastly, their answers to my letters will tell me if we can start healing and building a healthier relationship.
What would it take to allow someone back into your life?
The asnwer to this question varies from person to person since we all have different needs, but the core needs of any human being are: respect, honesty, trust, and communication. If someone is not navigating the relationship with these four pillars as its foundation, it cannot last, therefore, shouldn't have a place in your life until they actively show you a changed behavior. Apologies on their own are just not enough.
For me and my family, some of it means the following:
- Taking no for an answer without a guilt trip or pushing for more legitimate reasons,
- Stopping the passive aggressive "jokes",
- Not seeing everything I do as an attack to them,
- Supporting me even when they don't agree or at least not using control to make me do what they want me to do,
- Respecting my boundaries, i.e, knocking before entering my home,
- No more manipulation based on them being my blood family,
- Not using depression as an excuse to verbally abuse,
- Not telling my kids to lie to me or going against my parenting decisions.
Other reasons to remove people from your life
Removing people from your life doesn't stop at how people have treated you. You can also remove people that just don't fit with what you want in your life. As humans, we grow constantly and often outgrow people or realise that certain relationships are not healthy.
Here are some examples of reasons:
- They are constantly complaining about life,
- They get jealous of your success,
- They gossip about other people,
- They blame others for their mishaps,
- They don't respect your boundaries,
- You don't trust them,
- They often make unhealthy decisions,
- They ask to borrow money all the time.
I hope this article helps you navigate your relationships a little easier!
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 Michelle Brady