A friend once said of me that I let others get away with murder in how they treat me. Of course the evening after this was said to me, I found the perfect quote from the book I’m currently reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. The quote summarizes exactly how I feel about being mistreated by friends at times:
“Elsa decides that even if people she likes have been shits on earlier occasions, she has to learn to carry on liking them. You’d quickly run out of people if you had to disqualify all those who at some point have been shits.”
When people are ‘shits’ to me, I try to recall the Four Agreements, and in particular, agreement number two (kind of funny that it’s agreement #2 for the juvenile minded readers out there! ;-): “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
I remember reading the Four Agreements a few years ago and they all made sense. I had suffered needlessly for years because of what others had done to me but when I truly understood and adopted the thinking that nothing other people do has anything to do with me, I could easily forgive people for being shits.
Of course, not everything is forgivable or understandable, let me be clear about this. A boyfriend I had when I was 18-22 years old used to beat me–at times, it was completely unprovoked. He’d sometimes blindside me with a punch when I least expected it. He broke my nose and I ended up in the hospital emergency room, unable to stop the bleeding. One could argue that these actions still had nothing to do with me, but these actions are not forgivable. He was beyond being just a shit. This was no ordinary “water under the bridge” kind of situation. There’s never any excuse for harming others. He’s one of the very few childhood friends I will never have anything to do with.
Another person I will never forgive is Dan. His actions toward me are unforgivable and disgusting. No person should have to go through what I went through with Dan. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the first, nor will he be the last but his harassment of me was the worst because it was out of left field. I thought I was meeting him for one reason but it turned out to be much more sordid (I’ve linked to my old blog post about the circumstances surrounding the situation with Dan).
Not forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily mean that I give them any space in my brain, however. I haven’t thought of either of these two men for a long time. I know there are people out there who believe that until I let go of what they did to me, they’re both inside me forever but I’m not sure I agree with that. I don’t think of them and I haven’t not changed myself in any way because of what they’ve done, so do they really have any impact on me? I don’t think so but I could be wrong.
When I consistently apply the Four Agreements to my life, it becomes easier. I wish I would have remembered these agreements back in April but I’m remembering them now and that’s what matters. For a reminder of all the agreements, here they are by don Miguel:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
When you live your life in accordance to the Four Agreements, forgiving the actions of others is easy and brings much peace to the mind.