They say that you shouldn’t give your trust out for free—that you should only trust someone after they’ve earned it. I’ve never really followed this rule. I take a quite opposite route actually and simply trust those who haven’t showed me that I can’t or that I shouldn’t. Maybe I’m crazy for this. But the reality of the matter is people will double-cross you and go back on their word no matter what. That’s what we get for being human, we make mistakes and feel the repercussions of others as well. But what’s perhaps more important than whether or not someone lies to you or betrays your trust is how they treat you after the matter. Do they show remorse? Are they sincerely sorry? Sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes the whole experience proves who you should show your own loyalty too. Regardless, you have to first take the steps to forgive them—even if you’re not doing it for them but yourself. Because holding a grudge can weigh you down and it’s just not worth the suffering. So here are five steps to take to forgive someone:
1) Reflect on the situation.
The first step to forgiving someone is reflecting on the situation: figure out exactly what happened, why or even if you’re upset, where the betrayal stemmed from, if the whole thing was avoidable, and so on. This will help you understand exactly how everything went down so you can then accept that it happened. You should also accept your initial reaction and feelings related to the event, as you can’t help them.
2) Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Once you’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on the situation and your feelings, try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Could you have found yourself in the same predicament? Or think back to a time when you were in a similar predicament—we’ve all been the offender at some point in our lives. Doing this will help you remember that all human beings are flawed. We all make mistakes, we act selfishly, and we hurt others in the process. In addition, maybe they found themselves between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes: whichever course of action they took, they would hurt you or someone else. So really take the time to consider not only your own feelings, but all factors.
3) Choose to learn from the experience.
It’s your decision whether you learn from this experience or you let it tear you down. Trust me, you should take the first route. I did say that I inherently trust most people, so maybe it’s my own fault, but one time in middle school, I placed my trust in the wrong hands and my so-called friend told my crush that I liked him (I know, so the end of the world). I was super embarrassed, especially after finding out that he didn’t share my feelings, but I didn’t cry in the bathroom like you would expect a middle school girl to do in this situation. Instead, I took the mature route and learned that I should probably get to know someone better before telling them all of my secrets. So follow middle school-me’s lead: choose to learn from the experience. The goal is to live and learn, after all!
4) Let it go.
So now that you’ve assessed the entirety of the situation, tried to understand the other person’s perspective and course of action, and seen the growth the experience offered you… let it go! Like I said before, you don’t have to do it for them but you should do it for yourself. You don’t want to grow into a cranky old lady with bad posture because her back is weighed down by all the grudges she’s carrying from years past. Avoid this unfortunate fate by simply letting go.
5) Decide where you want to go from here.
Now that you’ve let go, it’s up to you to decide where you go from here. Is this someone you want to keep in your life? Is it worth placing your trust in them again? I don’t have the answer. It all depends on how you’re feeling and ultimately what you think you should do. You may decide you want to repair your relationship with this person who betrayed you, and that’s great. But you also might decide to forgive and then remove them from your life, and that’s okay too. Lauren Conrad said it best to her old friend Heidi Montag, on The Hills: “I want to forgive you. And I want to forget you.” The choice is yours!