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Do you find it easy to forgive and forget

By ‘BUNMI SOFOLA

“THERE is such a thing as good anger:” explains psychotherapist, Janice Alpert. “And dealing with it is much better than pretending it is not there.** So, at what point do you stop turning the other cheek and go for the an-eye-for-an-eye option? Does the fact that the person who hurts you says “I’m sorry” automatically see you saying -That’s okay, forget it’?
A few weeks ago, at a children’s party, a bored looking young boy suddenly got up from his seat, strolled determinedly towards a much older boy and gave him a slap. The adults around looked_shocked. “I’m sorry,” whined the boy. The recipient of the slap wasn’t having any of that. He retaliated with two sharp ones. The culprit howled in righteous anger: “But I told you I was sorry,” he whined. “If you deliberately hurt someone,” explained an adult to this misguided boy, “Sorry1 doesn’t make it right. You must be punished.”

Let’s face it, some people don’t deserve to be forgiven. At least that is what Sandra believed. When she discovered that on the eve of their wedding, her would-be husband, who was supposed to be having a ball at his stag night was in her best friend’s flat having a last mad fling. She was not only furious, she felt let down by the two people she held dear.

“I didn’t find out until years after we were married,” explained Sandra. “A friend invited me to lunch and told me a ‘there’s no easy way to say this’ story, that Ken, my husband, had been carrying on with my so-called best friend since before we got  married she knew about his stag night’s escapades too and she wouldn’t have told me if they had put a stop to it. But, at a recent do, she actually saw Ken grab Faith (so-called best friend’s) bum as they both left for his car.

“Rage couldn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Faith was closer than a sister to me and she was the first I tackled. At first, she denied it but when she, realised I had all the facts, she burst into tears and started apologising profusely, But what was she sorry for? For bunking my husband behind my back or for being caught? I told her I never wanted to see her face again This was a girl  I could give my right arm for, that was always helping herself to clothes and shoes from my wardrobe.

l guess she must have believed Ken came with the package too. As for Ken, nothing but revenge would do. After letting him know what I thought of him, he too blabbed that he was sorry.

I said nothing but I meant to draw my pound of flesh. When next a friend of his flirted with me as he often did  I couraged him. He couldn’t believe his luck! After I slept with him, I thought I would feel elated by my revenge, but I felt terrible. It was then it dawned on me that, instead of using revenge to relieve my anger, I should have held on to it and, used it as a bargaining chip.  Now I’ve ended up making myself look like a victim; and cheap to boot!”
“On a professional level” says Mabel, a 45-year-old company director, “a good grude could help you avoid bad relationships and cultivate good ones. When I was personal assistant to the director of marketing in the company I work for, my job included filttering all calls for my boss.  Often distributors would call and berate me for not letting them through to him. They would insult me and had no regard for the job I was trying to do. As my boss retired and I got promoted. Now, those distributors still call for information on our products. Some don’t remember me from my personal assistant days, but I distinctly remember them.

“Over the years, I’d kept a sort of mental address book of nasty, bad-tempered people who turned sweet the minute I became successful. If any of my directors ask me for the name of a good and reputable distributor, I’ll offer them the one who is both hardworking and polite – and not the megalomaniacs who walked all over me when I was starting out…”

“While a good grudge commands respect and shows you mean business,” continues Alpert, “you have to be selective. Grudging is like swearing: do it too much and it loses power. A few good reasons to grudge: first, when the act itself is truly awful; Second, when your instinct tells you this person is not really sorry; third, when no matter how much you want to forgive, you can’t.

Finally, grudge-bearing ensures you won’t burn other bridges you’d like to keep. The crux is, if you have doubt about whether or not to bear a grudge, you probably shouldn’t. Just as crucial as sticking to your guns, is knowing when to finally forgive.”


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