I often shock clients or audience members by telling them that they should not feel badly that they are not as intelligent as I am. I go to state that I do not know anyone who is as intelligent as I am, as good-looking as I am, or as humble as I am. In fact, I inform them, I am the most humble person I know. I am always relieved when that last line evokes laughter because it is entirely meant to be funny.
Humility is a wonderful if all-too-rare quality in our world. Think for a moment about people you admire, people with whom you enjoy spending time. Chances are they have this attribute in no small measure.
Humility can go a long way toward preventing or resolving conflict. There’s an old expression “if you mess up, fess up and move on.” People with humility are able to admit when they are wrong and not try to cover up their misdeeds to save face. They are more likely to make comments such as “I was wrong, please forgive me,” or “it was my fault, and I’m sorry.”
I can think of a lot of reasons why people are reluctant to own up to their shortcomings, but few, if any good ones. Face it, we are all imperfect human beings, and by definition, we are going to err at times. Please don’t spend too much time beating yourself up for your failures, and for sure, be ever ready to forgive those who mistreat you.
Humility and forgiveness are kinfolks. Seeking and granting forgiveness are crucial components of Relationship CPR (Conflict Prevention & Resolution). Please don’t make the mistake of equating forgiving with forgetting, however. The advice we heard as children to “forgive and forget” sounds nice, but it is impossible to do. Devoid of brain injury or illness, your mind retains every event that you have ever experienced – both positive and negative. Not sure you believe that? Think back to your first or second-grade teacher. Though that memory may go back decades, I find most people can readily summon up the name and image of their teacher.
Forgiveness is a decision not to hold the other party guilty for the offense they committed against you. When you forgive someone, you release them from any debt they owe you. If others were involved in the offense, the guilty party might still have to answer to them, but not to you. That, by the way, applies whether the other party asks for forgiveness or not. Choosing to forgive someone is one of the best actions you can take for your own health and well-being, even more than for the other person. I believe it was Paul Tillich who said, “forgiveness is remembering the past in order that it might be forgotten.“
Why would you want to go through life hilding on to grudges and grievances from your past? I know many people do that, but can somebody tell me how that has a positive impact on their lives. I often quote Ken Sande who said, “unforgiveness is the poison we drink expecting the other person to die.”
So let me close with an encouragement and challenge to consider someone in your life who wronged you and towards whom you harbor some resentment. Determine today that you will do whatever it takes to release that resentment. Rather than striving to forgive and forget, you might adopt the mindset that you will forgive and move on. The other person may or may not appreciate your forgiveness, but I can just about guarantee that you will.
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Ron Price MA is the owner/operator of Productive Outcomes, Inc. He has spent the last 30+ years as a mediator helping people resolve their differences with others. He provides workshop training and presentations on a variety of life skills. For more information visit www.PlayNiceinYourSandbox.com or send an e-mail to [email protected] or call Ron at 505 324-6328.