Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Forgive and Forget It.

Bear in mind: not every person is a person you want to spend time with. When you first meet someone, that's often apparent, right off the bat! Maybe there is something about their manner that doesn't make you feel comfortable, or maybe you simply feel no rapport. Or for any or no reason at all - you don't find their company to be pleasant. Well, there's nothing insulting there. It's a simple matter of interpersonal chemistry. It works itself out quite naturally: you simply choose not to end up spending very much of your time on that person.

You're under no obligation to spend your time with people, especially if you find it not pleasant to do so. "Your time," of course, not meaning work time or school time, but whatever time you are free to set for yourself. Your discretionary time. Your time.

And as I've said, when there's zero rapport, when there's absolutely no reason to spend that time, it's commonly apparent right off!

But sometimes, it isn't. Sometimes there is rapport, and then the rapport breaks, or fades, or is otherwise gone. The reason isn't necessarily germane. If there is no shared stake, no responsibility undertaken and held in common, no overriding reason why you two must interact (at a level that would then become, essentially, a work relationship), then why would you interact? If we are talking about a simple relationship, a friendship or acquaintanceship between two people whose basis for interaction has been the most natural, common, blessed and desirable basis there is: you are both enjoying the interaction - well, naturally if that basis goes away, if the interaction can no be longer a pleasant thing for you, then that's more-or-less that. There is no more reason to spend time with that person whose presence in your life is not pleasant, than with a person you just met whose presence in your life is not pleasant. You don't want to spend unpleasant time with a person, if you don't have to - whether you're just getting to know them, or whether you suddenly just got to know them, a little too well.

Remember: "forgive and forget" always applies. But depending on that underlying interpersonal chemistry, it applies differently. If someone wrongs you in some way, but there is still rapport, and they remain a person you want to spend time on, then of course by all means, forgive and forget. And spend the time!

But if the rapport is gone - not based on any action of theirs, but based on the person they are! Based on who they are, who you know they are. Maybe you know them a little better than you did before, and as it turns out, they are not a person with whom spending time can be pleasant for you. Well in that situation, you still must forgive! If there's anything at all to forgive - and if you're being honest with yourself, there usually isn't. Usually the other person has done nothing wrong, they were just being who they are. You may have been angered, or hurt, that who they are is not what you thought or wanted, but that's not their fault. And even if something is their fault - even if they done you wrong: always, always forgive. Even if only for your own sake, forgive! And you still should forget. Just for your own sake. You have no need to carry a grudge. Let it go, let it drop. It's a burden that can't help you on your road; let it go.

Forgiveness doesn't mean you choose to spend your time on someone whose company is not pleasant to you. Someone with whom, if you'd known them a little better up front, you would never have elected to spend the time in the first place. It makes very little sense to perpetuate a relationship like that! In fact, such behavior is cruel. It is dishonest and more than a little heartless, to the person whose company you are merely tolerating. Don't flatter yourself: no one wants that from you. No one wants to inflict their odious presence upon someone who is merely putting up with them. It is in these cases that forgive and forget applies, but with a slight variant.

For those people you actually want to spend time with: forgive and forget.

For the people you don't: forgive and forget it.


limom said...

There is a key moment in a conversation when you realize the brigde has broken, the boat has sank, the brakes don't work, the milk has spoilt, etc.
A blank expression comes over my face, I pause, then say:
"I beg your pardon?"

dogimo said...

Wow - I hope that phrase doesn't carry all that freight! I use it all the time. I could be needlessly freaking people out.

I bet it's more the blank expression that does it. Gets the tone across.

And the pause.

But do you mean you find that there are - beliefs, or stances - that automatically rule someone out?

For me it is less a sticking point system, and more the process of - well, I guess it's the process of enthusiasm. You put more into the interactions that buoy you and make you psyched about life, and you tend to put less and less towards people who do nothing but clash, drain, and bum you out.

I guess there might be sticking points too, but in practice I tend to want to find out more about why they feel that way. It makes me curious.

limom said...

There is nothing in particular that triggers the reaction.
Amusing, for I am watching the Manchurian Candidate right now.
As you say, it's probably the said chemistry.
Funny thing is, my first impressions are often wrong.
At the primal level, I believe it comes down to the old "looking out for number one" syndrome.
What does this person have to offer ME? What is gained by sustaining a relationship with this person?
It all sounds very selfish, but I think that stuff is sort of built in. Survival and natural selection don't ya know.

dogimo said...

Yes, it is ultimately selfish to protect the self. But if you think your self is good, and worth something, and necessary to those who depend on you, than it is - paradoxically, perhaps - selfish to sacrifice yourself on an unworthy object. To squander your self on someone you know is nothing but bad for you - who does nothing but break, drain, hurt, make you cry, make you want to kill yourself. Even if you are the biggest altruist in the world, you need to protect yourself or you can't help others.

The other half of the practical aspect is: even those of us who are not necessarily altruists, probably all of us have far more people than we can properly interact with either actively vying for our attention, or else people we love whom we've neglected, who would be so lifted up by a call or letter or visit from us, and who it would lift us up to connect with.

In a world where you often end up neglecting people you wish you could lavish time on - people who build you up and increase your store of hope and good will - why waste it on somebody who's just nasty? Who just wrecks your day and uses up whatever you have?

Especially if you've already wasted so much time on that person. It's as you say, limom - first impressions are often wrong! Sometimes it takes months of escalating unpleasantness, of you doing everything you can to break through to an understanding, before you finally realize: it isn't a disagreement. There's nothing to convince or to understand. This is just who they are.

To me, disagreements and stances and differences of opinion are nothing - never an obstacle. But sometimes you have to realize that the root way a person is goes deeper than any understanding.

That doesn't mean there's necessarily anything wrong with that person. Sometimes you have two good people, but it's in between them where the nasty comes in. Being a good person doesn't confer a superpower of being compatible with everybody. Sometimes there's just something unworkable, in the way two people interact.

Sometimes forgiveness just means letting go.