Forgiveness is something that all human beings are faced with some time in life. It is a choice we must make. We can hold grudges over people and give up on them. That is the easy way. There are other ways to handle it. When people behave in bad ways, it tends to be because they are very scared of something. No one who felt really strong would ever be mean.
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[00:01] Let’s say you just had a big row with someone close to you. They behaved terribly, maybe broke something and said something hideous to you. It’s so tempting to give up on them and just hate them, but there’s another way. Here’s a big idea: People are almost never simply bad. What they are far more often is scared. When they behave in really horrible ways, it tends to be because they’re extremely anxious for some reason or another. Though their behavior can seem strong, no one who actually felt strong would be all arsey like that. The mature response shouldn’t therefore be to increase tension and flare up in return but to strive to see all you’ve got in front of you is someone who can’t cope. We are so aligned to the idea that it’s patronizing to think of people as younger than they are we forget that it’s also, at times, the greatest privilege to look beyond someone’s adult self in order to engage with and forgive the anxious or disappointed, furious or inarticulate child within.
[01:21] There’s another thing to bear in mind when all you can see is a person’s weak points. Weak points are always linked to strong points and vice versa. So, for example, the strength of thoroughness is always going to bring with, in other contexts, the weakness of pedantry. Creative brilliance might well be inseparable from logistical unreliability. People who are fantastic leaders at work are likely to be seriously difficult around domestic chores. The reason for keeping this in mind is that we often encounter people’s weaknesses at moments when we’re in danger of losing sight of their strengths. At certain points, all it seems we’re bumping into are the weaknesses. We wonder “how did I end up in this relationship or hanging out with this person?”
[02:16] During tough times, we only see the flaws. We are failing to step back enough and ask a really vital question: not just what are these people’s weaknesses but what are the strengths of which these annoying traits are the unfortunate shadow sides. Everyone is going to have the weaknesses of their strengths. Forgiving people must mean doing everything we can to keep their strengths in view at moments where their weaknesses are only too painfully apparent.