“Don’t be so forgiving”

September 25, 2018

I’m weaving pics I took from a sunset at Hart Prairie (near Flagstaff, AZ) throughout this post.

Last week, during my existential birthday meltdown (what am I doing with my life? Is this where I’m supposed to be at 36? Why am I here????), I reached out to my friend and coach for a lifeline.  We texted briefly in the morning and she was supposed to follow up with me later that day.  I sat down and started writing some boo-hoo-ery about life and then cried into my protein pancakes.  She didn’t reach back out later that day.

She texted and apologized the next morning for not following up with me, explaining that the day had gotten away from her and she completely forgot.  I texted back “it’s okay.”

Then she said something that really hit me.

“No, it’s not. Don’t be so forgiving.”

Don’t be so forgiving.

I spent all day chewing on that statement.  Don’t be so forgiving.  Was I too forgiving?  Did I give people too many passes?  Wasn’t forgiveness a good thing?  Was it really possible to be too forgiving?

Here’s what I came up with.  Yes, it’s possible to be too forgiving – and yes, I often am.

There are two reasons I dole out forgiveness with little discern.  First (and this is connected with my last post), I didn’t hold people accountable because I have this block with feeling deserving.  If someone lets me down, doesn’t do something they said they would, flakes out on me, I forgive them right away because deep down, I don’t feel like I deserved people who I can count on.

The other reason is because I have an aversion to casting judgement (and I’m a Virgo… I know, go figure).  I give people passes because I worry that not doing so would be judgy.  I’ve done this a lot in my past romantic relationships, turning a blind eye to red flags (I’m talking red flags that were up in flames with sirens going off and spotlights shining down on them, accompanied by flashing neon signs that read “Run Jessica, RUN!!!).  I’d make excuses for the poor behaviors or sketchy pasts of boyfriends because I’d always try to focus on the good in people rather than casting stones at them.  I don’t judge others because I don’t want to be judged.

But now, I think there’s a difference between judging others and simply holding them accountable for their actions.  There’s also a difference between discerning if the traits and behaviors in someone are acceptable to me… as qualities of someone I want to have in my life in any capacity… and being a judgemental asshole.

We all need to be held accountable for our actions, don’t we?  The best friends and partners are people who call us out on our stuff and push us to become better.  They’re not those who always give us passes and make excuses so we can stay squarely planted in our dissatisfying lives.

This tendency to over-forgive has come to an end.  I want people to call me out on my shit, so I’m going to call them out on theirs.  If I believe I deserve more, I have to expect more, right.  It’s not always okay.  

Holding people accountable doesn’t make me less loving – I think in the end, it makes me more loving… of others, and most importantly, of myself.


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