When it Comes to Forgiveness, There's a Double Standard

We all make mistakes: big ones, small ones, mediocre ones, accidental ones… the list goes on. It’s part of human nature and seeing as no one is perfect, it is bound to happen on the regular. I have quite the conundrum in regards to this topic and it goes a little something like this…

When we make a mistake, we expect for others to be understanding and forgive us immediately.
When someone else makes a mistake, we pick apart every single detail and take our sweet time in forgiving them.

As a people pleaser, I absolutely despise when I make a mistake that hurts or makes someone angry. I over apologize, I overanalyze, I do whatever I can to make it right. Yet, I find myself actually getting frustrated when it takes time for someone to process the situation and eventually forgive me. It’s a helpless feeling. You want to say and do everything to make that person understand your side of things, to understand why you acted the way you did.

But, are we taking into account that maybe that's not what they need? Probably not, because even though you are the one that made the mistake – you are only concerned with your timeline of things, not the person that you wronged. Which is ironic, because even though you want them to forgive you, you are still being selfish in the manner of their forgiveness process.

There’s another side to this: when someone makes a mistake that affects you, that whole immediate forgiveness thing suddenly becomes nonexistent. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time with the “forgive and forget” part. As a professional over-analyzer, I pick apart absolutely every detail of the situation. I will sit there for days trying to figure out WHY this person would ever do that, I take it personally, I ice people out, I have a million questions that I want to ask.

But indeed,  the answer to all of it is pretty simple:  just like me, this person is human.  Unless it was with malicious and premeditated intent, it was simply a mistake, and I can bet that they feel just as bad as I do when I screw up.

So why is it such a double standard? Why don’t we give others the same grace that we feel entitled to when we screw up? Why aren't we a little more understanding? Why do we make small mistakes a bigger issue than they should be? But lastly, why is forgiving so hard to do?

The truth is, we are wired to only see our side. We must learn that there is, always, another way to look at a situation. Once we get over the massive obstacle of thinking our way is the only way, it's actually quite easy to accept that hey, maybe it's not all what it seems.

So, when it comes to mistakes and forgiveness, don’t be so hard on someone. Talk about it with them instead of icing them out. Vulnerability is another really hard thing, but it is key in finding true forgiveness between two people. When you get to the root of the issue, you’re likely to diffuse a situation that was unintentional to begin with. Having people in your life who love and care for you is so essential to your happiness, why make things harder on yourself by jeopardizing valuable relationships because of a mistake?

Yes, of course there are some mistakes that are irreconcilable. Those are the situations where you have to forgive someone who isn’t even sorry, and it’s something you do for you and ONLY you. But in most cases, we have to realize we are never going to be perfect, and we are always going to have regrettable confrontations with people around us. It's part of life. But what can set us aside and open a whole world of possibility, is extending the grace to others we wish to receive from them when we've messed up. 

In the end, forgiveness can be a tough pill to swallow. But what's the alternative? Being right, living in your lonely castle carrying around the heart of an ice queen, and slowly cutting everyone out of your life. Doesn't sound like a great option. We grow as people from practicing forgiveness, and it makes us better people. The key thing is to not stuff your feelings, talk them out, and take your time. Forgiveness can't be rushed, and sometimes the relationship won't ever look or feel the same, but something new and more genuine can come from it.