When I was a child, I found it difficult to forgive people. This led to me being called ‘Margaret Thatcher’ or ‘Iron Lady’. To add to that, I was also impatient and intolerant. So naturally, I barely had any friends. Being the typical recluse, I also didn’t feel the need to please people, even though there were moments I could be gracious and generous.
It wasn’t long before my mother saw the possible consequences of these traits on my future relationships. She began to work on me so much that by the time I was in my late teens, I was successfully molded to become patient and tolerant. In the process of learning how to forgive, I picked up some other interesting perspectives, some of which I’ve listed below.
Boundaries are Necessary
I didn’t suddenly become a people pleaser overnight. But I became so conscious of how people perceived me that I started to lose a little of myself. This meant that I allowed people to treat me in ways that I shouldn’t have tolerated. Again, even in these instances, I was willing to forgive and offer second chances. It was my mother yet again, who saw how I was taken advantage of and pointed it out to me.
As I began to rack up my count of toxic friendships and relationships, I started to learn that boundaries are necessary. While I had learned that you should love, tolerate and forgive others, I also learned that forgiveness was not a license for others to mistreat you. I learned that it is possible, even necessary in many cases, to keep toxic people at arm’s length without bearing a grudge. And that sometimes, it’s okay to be THE ‘Iron Lady’.
Respect and Empathy
While it can be pretty tough to find this balance, it is very possible. The key is respect and empathy – for yourself and for others. When you forgive, you show respect for yourself by refusing to hold on to bitterness and negativity. You likewise show empathy for the other person by sparing them the vengeance you could have chosen to exact. Tolerance is how you show respect to other people. You essentially say that you respect the other person no matter how different they are from you.
In learning to find the balance between forgiveness and self-dignity, I found patience as a necessary tool to develop empathy. After all, I will one day offend people and expect them to forgive me.
Understanding just what these words mean in your relationship with others will go a long way in helping you find a balance. Conclusively, I’ll say this: Regardless of how you choose to navigate the idea of boundaries in your relationships, always remember that people matter. And so do you.