Forgiveness: A Change in Mindset

“Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
― Joanna Weaver

As I turned around to my snickering class mates, I could hear them whispering “I’m surprised he even felt that”. They had been shooting spitballs at me for the last couple of minutes and assumed my wondrous amount of flab would merely absorb the impact without my noticing. These kind of things occurred almost daily, and commonly so discretely that teachers never really seemed to notice, or when alerted, merely told the accused to settle down. It’s easy for some parents to write it off as “boys will be boys” or “children just go through that phase”.
 
In the first introduction I mentioned a bit about my battle with obesity. As one may suspect, this battle was one that went beyond my inability perform well in sports or in consuming far too much food. I learned later in life that bullies exist in all shapes and sizes, and my overcoming my obesity didn’t eliminate these kind of experiences. It’s unfortunate that the easiest targets are those who are already living with some aspect of themselves they don’t quite love, making the words of the attacker that much more damaging. It’s no surprise that it can often lead to things like depression or in more extreme cases, even suicide.

While it may be easy to blame the bully, or on their parents, it may get you some justice, but it won’t resolve the problem. No human being; child or adult, who is fulfilled and happy, would get their kicks from making others feel terrible. Let me say that once more, no one will wake up and think “Wow, what a wonderful day to be alive!” as they open up their curtains, then go and harass someone later in the day.

 

Hot Tip: Notice when you think poorly of someone. See if you can re-frame why they wronged you. (i.e. If your boss yelled at you, and normally does not, could it be something happened to him to put him on edge, like an argument with a family member?). Next, notice how responding with kindness and not holding onto grudges pacifies the situation much faster. 
One day, well into my weight loss I went for ice cream (I still treat myself of course!) and suddenly came face to face with one of the bullies from my childhood. At first I could not believe my eyes, but upon gazing at his name tag, I had confirmed it. “Hello, what may I get for you today?” he asked. He hadn’t recognized me, of course. We went through the interaction as normal, and I walked away with my ice cream in hand. I couldn’t feel any resentment. All that came to mind was, I have no idea what his life was like while he was bullying me, nor in the years since then.

I allowed myself to develop this mindset over time, which allowed me to forgive those who were the cause of my suffering. I did it for myself, to carry no more bitterness into the future. Knowing when to set healthy boundaries and say something about what’s bothering you is an important skill to have.

More then compassion for others, compassion for myself turned out to be much harder and a skill I’m continuing to develop. To forgive myself for the way I used to live, and be proud of myself for my own accomplishments. The years I spent overweight and hiding from the world may never return, but the future still lies ahead, undefined.