Seattle Designer

Confessions of a Graphic Designer

i'm a graphic designer who loves words. - terri nakamura


"Graphic Design"

"Social Media"

"Digital Media"

Forgiveness in the New Year

"Communications"

"Verizon Lifestyle Blogger"
Illustration: © Urban Colors

WE CUT PEOPLE LOOSE from our lives for a variety of reasons. Maybe they have been dishonest, unkind, or simply obnoxious. But even after jettisoning someone, they can persist in the back of one's mind.

Instead of pledging to work out at the gym or go on a diet, for the new year, try lightening your load by exercising the power of forgiveness.

Negative feelings take energy even when you're not thinking about them. It's like a faucet leak. You know it should be dealt with somehow, but it's easier to be passive and let that drip, drip, drip reside in the background.

The process of forgiving

To start, it means taking stock of what has gone sideways and moving forward with an action, like a phone call, email, or even meeting in person. The intent is to share the problem with the desire to sweep it away and start over. It's like giving someone a second chance.

A former colleague did something unethical to me. At first I was hurt, then angry. The anger grew into a general dislike, and mostly it had dissipated until recently when she popped back on my radar. Feeling there was nothing to lose, I decided to tell her how I've been feeling. She didn't even remember the incident, which illustrates how any of us might inadvertently cause unhappiness in others. It made me wonder if I've done the same thing?

Forgiveness doesn't mean condoning negative behavior. The process of forgiving acknowledges the bad with the hope that history won't repeat itself. And just because you've forgiven someone doesn't mean they've regained your trust. In fact, they probably haven't. But it means they might be able to earn it back.

Can you forgive a virtual friend?

Are social media "friendships" important to mend? People can be dishonest by doing things to obscure your view of them (not giving real names, not using pictures of themselves) and it allows them to do things they wouldn't do normally if they were personally going to be held accountable. Giving them a pass is like forgiving the meter maid who leaves a parking ticket on your car. They're like shadows without bodies, and probably best to leave alone.

A lighter life

I like the notion of starting the year with something doable. What's the point of having goals that start and fizzle because they require major lifestyle changes? If you forgive just one person, you've already succeeded because you've stopped a leak of wasted energy and can move forward with less heaviness weighing you down on the path of your life.

Do you have any new year resolutions? Do you feel most people should be given another chance? I'd love to have you share your thoughts.

Many thanks for reading this.

And happy new year to you :-)

Illustration: © Urban Colors

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73 Comments:

Anonymous Eleanor Jodway/ @Miranda1928 said...

Forgiveness is as important to the person doing the forgiving, as the one being forgiven. Perhaps more so. People who feel the need to give this type of absolution, generally are being eaten by the misdeed that was visited upon them. They live constantly with the memory of how they were betrayed, mistreated, or misused. Wondering....why Me, how could I have missed the signs, what did I do to deserve this betrayal. In a sense, the offender wins all the way round....don't they!? But, I have to say Terri....I am with You! It is better to be the bigger person and wipe the slate clean. However, it is also wise, not to leave oneself open to these types of people; for future indiscretions/abuse. Bravo to You for committing to such an honorable resolution! You are a decent human being....and You always display strong morals/ethics!

Happy New Year My Friend. And May You be treated with the Kindness and Dignity You deserve!

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terri...
It's like you were writing \ opinning directly to me on this particular subject, I being the one earnestly seeking forgiveness from another...for over 2 years now. I am truly full of regret at having emotionally upset this woman and have desperately tried to express it to her and gain her trust and confidence back, but to no avail, which just wears on my own mind constantly. From your own experience by the incident you mentioned, you can relate to this...but ultimately, as you implied by posing the question, "Can you forgive a virtual friend?", you don't offer me much hope through the advice that "Giving them a pass...best to leave alone."
I am still holding out hope, with prayer, that "the (my) intent is to...start over. It's like giving someone (me) a second chance." Although, as painfully difficult as it can be to accept...anyone, including me, must fully realize that, it may never be given.

Aside from this, I am curious to know if you thoroughly forgave the colleague that upset you after finally approaching her...and had you any doubt at all about her not even remembering the incident ?
Thank you, Terri...and a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year to you and your Family.

Mike

12:51 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

My dear friend, Ellie,

Thank you for reading and sharing. You know I always trust what you say, regardless of whether or not I completely agree with it! *WINK*

You're correct in saying the offender often wins. But in the case with my colleague, she was so caught off guard -- it really shook her up. Right away she wanted to get together to talk about it further. But that wasn't the point. Reminding her of her actions and their affect on me, then seeing her contrition while I was explaining my desire to move on, was therapeutic for me.

She no longer holds power over me, E. And the experience has been liberating. So in the end, she didn't win.

Thank you so much for always being honest with me. I know where I stand with you at all times — anymore a rare experience — so it makes me treasure your friendship all the more.

Wishing you well in the new year, Ellie! And thank you for your support and kindness over the years!

(((HUGGLES))) Terri

1:01 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Mike,

I can tell you there have been a few times where something went wrong with someone on Twitter and I felt badly about it. But as I explained, most of the people I meet on social media are not truly forthcoming. And not meeting people face to face, or hearing their voices/inflections, or reading their body language is a definite barrier to any sort of real understanding.

When I said to pass on these people, I meant people who were inherently dishonest to begin with -- those who hide behind fake names and monikers. Can I really become a close friend to "@DonDrapersYacht?" I don't think so.

It sounds like your friend is someone with whom you had a much deeper connection, so in that case, I can see why you would grieve the loss of it. If I truly wanted to patch something up with a social media friend, I would probably ask a mutual friend to intervene on my behalf, if such a connection exists.

I hate to say, you need accept the relationship might not ever be resolved. Like the sudden death of a friend or family member, where one isn't afforded the chance to say goodbye and tell them you love them, social media friendships can be equally fleeting.

In your case, by trying so hard to explain, apologize, communicate, you might seem like a stalker to her. She might be afraid, in which case, it is a done deal and you really must move on.

Regarding my colleague, she was horrified when I reminded her of what happened. She'd thought nothing of it at the time, so it wasn't surprising she'd forgotten it. But I know I have moved on, and though I doubt we will ever be close again, I no longer despise her.

Wishing you all the best, Mike, and my apology for the long reply. Thank you for reading and responding. It means a lot!

Sincerely, Terri

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your valuable insight through your reply, Terri...I really needed to hear someone's experienced, yet compassionate opinion concerning the matter. And with sadness, I realize you are absolutely right...after several years of trying to make amends with her, unsuccessfully, I need to finally give up and move on. I honestly feel that even your intervening on my behalf, if I were to request it of you, would be rejected by her...unless you would be willing to attempt it ?

8:05 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:51 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Mike, I know how it feels, but in this case, really think it's best to try to put this behind you. If, for some reason in the future, your paths cross again, it will be an opportunity to start over.

But until that time comes, I hope you will redirect the energy you're investing in this brick wall. It absorbs all you put into it and you receive nothing in return. If you invest the same energy in receptive, kind and friendly people, my guess is you will find greater joy and satisfaction. Maybe this sad memory will begin to fade.

Wishing you all the best!

Terri

12:51 AM  
Blogger Hansjörg Leichsenring said...

I am not sure, if I should give any peaople a second or third chance. Sometimes its worth it, sometimes not. At least most of the people deserve a new chance in the new year.

Cheers from Germany

Hansjörg

1:10 AM  
Blogger Catherine White Photography said...

I'm a good one for cutting people loose, quickly and often without explanation. In my family relationships you know the cause, but friendships are not a big priority for me. I'm an introvert through and through. That said, I know people have been hurt by my mysterious absence, so that's something I plan to address this year.

As for a number of family relationships, which are fraught with division and hostility, I'm extending an olive branch. That said, I think we need to make a clear distinction between forgiveness, and trust.

We need to put things right for our own emotional health, but then there are some people we need to have firm boundaries with.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Ruud_Reijmerink said...

Forgiveness is a beautifull start to begin this year with! From personal experience I know that it is a difficult thing to do. But when you succeed it is great feeling and gives a lot of new good in return.

1:13 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Hans, thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Giving people a second chance is often a reasonable thing. For example, on EAV, I had a number of people who took mission funds without doing the mission. I blocked them.

Then I met one of them in person at a social media event in Seattle. I had no idea who he was. We chatted for a half hour before I realized what had happened.

But I'd blocked him because I didn't know him — had no idea if he had a legitimate excuse. So not only did I give him a second chance, we now are friends and have even collaborated on an EAV mission together.

Third chance? I don't think so!

Thanks again and happy new year,

Terri

1:19 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Catherine, thanks for reading and commenting.

Family is a hole 'nother can of worms. So many strange dynamics come into play — I think it would be difficult to deal with forgiveness in quite the same way.

There's definitely a huge difference between forgiveness and trust. Forgiving is a gift to BOTH of you, but people who've in the past somehow betrayed us, need to EARN back trust.

Thanks for the great comment, and wishing you all the best in 2013!

Terri

1:23 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Ruud, thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

The way I look at it, someone you've emotionally/physically blocked has been placed in a form of purgatory. Forgiving them is a path to reconnection on whatever level you permit.

I think forgiveness is an act of kindness and generosity, and most people feel good when they do something positive.

Happy new year,

Terri

1:28 AM  
Blogger Claus said...

I am sorry to say I find it hard to forgive another person. It is something inside me that can not let go, you have been be-trade,and that got something to do with feelings, my feelings what is something I do not give out easy, you have to earn it back for me to trust again.
Cheers from New Zealand

1:30 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:43 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Claus, thanks for reading and for your comment.

I don't think forgiveness and trust are automatically linked. I completely agree, a person needs to earn your trust. Perhaps you feel they need to earn your forgiveness, too.

My point is, harboring negative thoughts and feelings are a needless expenditure of energy. By forgiving someone (even if you DON'T TRUST THEM), you effectively made a decision to move on.

Forgiving costs nothing, yet it can reward you many times over for the freedom you experience by no longer dealing with that particular piece of baggage.

Wishing you all the best,

Terri

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

It's interesting to me, Terri, that you posted this the same week my friend Holly posted a piece about many of these same issues. I personally don't draw any real distinction between online and other friends. (Over the years I've met face to face so many people I first met online---people are people.) I think that for me my new year's resolution is going to be to try harder to give people the benefit of the doubt and to be a bit quicker to forgive when someone does something that really bothers me.

2:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Reynolds said...

Terri, thanks for your thoughtful article and your equally thoughtful responses to each of those who have left a comment.

We've all heard it before - that holding a grudge does more harm to the person holding the grudge than to the person that the grudge is held against. Yet it's SO difficult to do in some situations.

I like that you give some concrete examples, even down to a series of little steps that we can engage in to seek to make a change. I find that helpful.

Some bad things that have happened to us in life seem never to be able to be redressed. Perhaps an unjust loss of a job and the way that it was dished out to you. That's a problem that can probably never be revisited, yet sometimes the personal difficulty persists.

I do have a point of disagreement with the person who thought that the one who did the wrong "wins in every way" - at least in that usually this other person has probably long forgotten what the issue was, or didn't see a problem with it, and hasn't given it a second thought ever since.

One of the problems is that to try to reconnect often means at least at some point raising the issues that created the disconnect in the first place. One thing I've learned is that everybody has their point of view and for most no amount of explanation will ever change it !

I was at least a little relieved to see you say that it can be far more difficult and complex with family, which has all sorts of convoluted issues.

Nevertheless, your encouragement to: firstly, recognize that negative feelings get the better of us; secondly, to be determined to do something about it; and thirdly, to break it down into little achievable steps - is very welcome advice. I thank you for that.

A Happy New Year to all of us in a new found determination to resolve some of the things that have been eating away at our lives !

2:01 AM  
Blogger Ezekiel Ogboko said...

thanks a lot terri for your meaningful posts and insights. secondly i will like to say on my own opinion that to forgive is divine therby, a lot of people find it difficult cause they dont have that kind of nature.as for me i've always believed in giving people a second chance and letting go. i find peace anytime i do

2:39 AM  
Blogger Slang said...

I like your definition of forgiveness, specially the part that it is like giving someone a second chance to earn your trust.
That said, I don't think that everyone is worthy of forgiveness, it depends on the nature of the affront, but even more, on how much time and energy one has invested in that relationship.
The more the investment, the greater the hurt, but one should realize one is really angry at oneself, and misdirecting it at the offender!
So I would decide it on a case-by-case basis, and weight the benefit to me of repairing the relationship vs moving on.
I would remind myself that there are plenty of fish in the sea and if I didn't have to deal with this person professionally, I would totally forget about them, block them, and move on!

3:05 AM  
Blogger Fabrice Bertelli said...

With years, I have only one resolution : take time with ones I love.
About forgiveness, I don't have personally an automatic answer : you're saying yourself that people don't remember always themself a bad attitude. Thus, in french "la beauté vient du regard des gens", could be translated as "The beauty is coming from the way you're seeing life". Have a great year Terri !
@fabricebertelli

4:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Terri, I so appreciate this topic just now. We had a family member....walk away from 45 year commitment just before the holidays. I had said I would bless them everyday for 30 days. The time is almost up. I have given the situation love and have mopped up the pieces. I am not ready to trust. I think that is a long term benefit of forgiving. I too am a cancer survivor. I cannot afford the luxury of not keeping my side of the street clean and loving the actor and perhaps not liking the action so much. Forgiveness is a gift I give myself. Leaning on faith in whatever your higher power is "makes it so"...as Jean Luc Pacard would say. Thanks again for the timing and G R E A T topic.

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walking away is never easy, but is frequently the best move. It has been roughly 25 years since I walked away from some highly toxic family members. I don't think of forgiveness, but it has all been a part of the path that has led me to where I am today.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Dan Murray said...

How many times do we hold grudges or are upset with someone and it eats away at us but when we go to seek forgiveness they look puzzled and don't even recall the incident.

The longer you allow things to 'boil' the tougher it can to get the 'stain' out or we go around all uptight and the other party merrily goes along without realizing the slight we had..... especially in social media. So who loses then....yep, we do.

Forgive + Forget = Friends

4:33 AM  
Blogger Semen Frish said...

Thanks Terri, proper theme and warm words but the illustration technique on the post pic is best of all :)

5:44 AM  
Blogger Henri Ligsay said...

I like that you brought up this topic of forgiveness. It's one of my favorite topics. I have been a victim of being unforgiving myself, and one day I learned that when we are full of resentments for what has been done wrong to us, it's like we are swimming in the mud. When we want to achieve something there will always be some kind of suppression that we won't notice. It's holding us back to reaching our ideals and goals. And it's not easy to forgive until we can make one of two choices, 1> fill our hearts continually with resentment which will get us sick 2> fill our hearts with love and understanding which will help us see the real person doing us wrong and will not get us sick. Forgiving and giving another a chance are really not tied. We can forgive and not give a chance, or forgive and give a chance, it all depends on a situation. For example, if it concerns engagement to be married, forgiveness is awesome, but giving a chance to go with it may not be.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

A lighter life... I love the concept. Your post reminds us that we tend to carry things and allow them to impact us far longer than the incident generally warrants. Good advice for the new year.

5:47 AM  
Blogger Robert Riley said...

“A mistake is always forgivable, rarely excusable and always unacceptable.” (Robert Fripp). To forgive someone is to provide them with feedback on their ethics learning process, whether they realize, acknowledge, or accept the forgiveness. If they are repeat offenders they will get the same message repeated to them from different people. If the victim of the misbehavior does not communicate the hurt experienced, how will the offender know that there is a social cost to their actions. This burden of expression can present with difficulty for an introverted victim, calling for clarity and centeredness. In the words of Eckhart Tolle: “You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.” Do not let other's misbehavior diminish who you are.

6:13 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Forgive but never forget.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Tiago Simões said...

Hi Terri,
This is my first article that i read in this new year, and i could not be a better one.
Forgiveness is my top priority in 2013.
We have to learn to let it go, so we can grow ourselves.
Sorry for my bad english :-)
I wish you a wondeful year!

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is important if want to move on. It is true it is not always easy to forgive. But once you do it all becomes easier. For those who have children, it is important to teach children to forgive. Beware grudges can hurt your mind and body.

7:40 AM  
Blogger David White said...

As you point out sometimes the transgressor does not even realize that they have offended you so the act of forgiving is really about releasing your hurt. It is one thing to forgive others but quite another to forgive yourself. Both however are wonderful resolutions for greeting the new year with a lighter load. Thank you for this blog post.

7:42 AM  
Blogger John L. Evans said...

Life is all about give and take, problem is many people do not have the abilities in equal measure.

Happy New Year......

Cheers John

#EAv (e)LOCRIS @LOCRIS |

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Lenore Goodnreadytogo said...

Hi Terri,

I would distinguish between forgiveness and giving someone another chance. It is possible, and sometimes even necessary, to forgive without re-engaging due to negative effects the interaction can have on one or both people. Of course, if you are re-engaging then forgiveness (by both) is a must. Also, in considering re-engaging, if the other person refuses to forgive and/or re-engage then unilateral forgiveness without re-engagement may be your only option and still has value for you. It's always good to let go of negative emotions.

Regards and Happy New Year,
Lenore #EAv GNRTG4gifts #goodnreadytogo

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Justin said...

Life is just way too short to hold grudges. They aren't good for your health both mental and physical.

Very good post here... I especially liked the story of how you cut someone off over a slight and yet when running into them a few years ago they had no idea what they had done to upset you!

It's amazing how often we can find ourselves hurt and the other person doesn't realise what we have done.

We are I think as humans inherently good, and whilst there are a few obvious exceptions to the contrary, most of us don't mean to cause others undue harm.

Anyway thanks for your thoughts on this and a very Happy 2013 to you!

9:24 AM  
Blogger Tahoe said...

Excellent post, well written, and communicating some very important thoughts. Thank you for sharing. Thoughts are bundles of energy and are, as you also comment, a drain on the available energy. I personally continue to struggle with this in my own life. Your thoughts are now integral with my process walking forward. Thank you again for sharing.

10:48 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

I forgive you for this comment.

8:14 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Alan, I think a lot of people look at a new year as a chance to move forward in their lives, hopefully making tiny improvements along the way.

I think it's great to try to give people the benefit of doubt. So often I think many can jump to a conclusion based on an unexplained circumstance.

I think I've met more than a hundred online friends in real life. And a number of people I've "met" via Skype or Gplus video chat. To me, that's about as close to real life as it gets :-)

That being said, I was referring to the people who don't really invite you into their lives. They're all to happy to nose around in yours (via FB and other places), but keep themselves tidily tucked away. Those people I don't need to forgive. They weren't really friends to start.

Thanks so much for taking time to write a thoughtful response. I really appreciate it.

Best regards and happy new year,

Terri

PS Sounds like Holly and I are on a similar wavelength!

8:20 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Dear Mark,

Thanks so much for your amazing comment. It made me think of some things I hadn't considered (workplace issues) and I can see how being fired, laid off or demoted could create a lot of negativity, and offer few avenues for resolution.

People who are self-focused frequently don't have even a vague idea they've done anything wrong to anyone because they seem themselves as "perfect." And people with any flavor of Personality Disorder are completely off the chart in terms of reasoning. There are simply some instances where there is no hope to resolve anything.

When that happens, there is no point in continuing to ruminate about it. I have a saying, "There is no point worrying about things you cannot change." Simply recognizing you can't change a person, and to stop investing energy in unworthy people can be therapeutic. Instead of being a victim, you've made a conscious decision to deal with it and put them into the past.

As far as dredging up past baggage, it's not really necessary. I think it can be simply said: "You may not realize it, but you did something that was (choose: hurtful, inconsiderate, untrustworthy, mean, etc.). I am letting you know, in this new year, I've elected to forgive you."

Happy new year to you, Mark, and my heartfelt gratitude for an insightful and meaningful contribution to this blog post.

Warm regards,

Terri

12:28 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Thanks for reading and for your comment.

Some people (like you) have a forgiving nature. In fact, I think many people are inclined to forgive, but when the person who has perpetrating a wrong is unwilling to accept any culpability, it's sometimes difficult to do so.

One of the points I hoped to make is, even if the person isn't willing to accept responsibility, you can still elect to forgive and set aside.

Here is hoping your new year is filled with peace!

Best regards.

Terri

12:36 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Dear Charlie,

Thanks for your comment and for reading the post.

When you said you don't think everyone is worthy of forgiveness, I somewhat agree with you. Instances where, for example, a drunk driver has robbed us of the life of a loved one, or has been abusive, or stolen, I think it would take an exceptional amount of generosity and courage to forgive.

Case-by-case is a good rule of thumb. One-size doesn't always fit all. There can be extenuating circumstances, such as the EAV player I blocked because he "took" 10K eaves without completing the mission. When I later met him in real life and found out what happened, I forgave him. He never completed the mission, but did other things to repay me. He didn't realize how people perceived "Eav thieves," and now handles missions in a very upstanding way.

Blocking and moving on is a fantastic way of dealing with online masqueraders, fakes, trolls, gossips and other miscreants. It's a great way of dealing with superficial relationships on social media where there is little or no personal investment.

Thanks again, Charlie, and happy new year wishes to you and yours!

Warm regards,

Terri

12:51 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Fabrice,

What a great resolution, and what a wonderful saying! Thank you for sharing and for reading this post.

When someone does something hurtful and doesn't realize it, I think they only way they will know is if it's presented to them.

Some people don't see any value in making the effort to do this. But from my standpoint, there is little to lose and a lot to be gained.

You gain peace of mind, knowing you've shared the cause of pain or anger and are choosing to let it dissipate. You have little to lose since chances are, that person already is out of your life.

Wishing you all the best in 2013, and thank you again for taking the time to share.

Warm regards,

Terri

12:56 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Hello and thank you for reading and commenting.

Family issues often are in a different realm, and can't be treated the same way you would a friendship or acquaintanceship.

It sounds like the person's actions were taken without regard to you or anyone else. Giving him/her a good window of time while you processed it, you now need to do what is going to help YOU.

Hopefully in our lives, we will make choices that bring us peace. I knew someone who was excommunicated from her church. She grieved about it and was unable to understand how an entity that embodied love and forgiveness couldn't forgive her for breaking some "rules." (Drinking coffee/alcohol, smoking cigarettes). I told her the religion wasn't going anywhere. If at some point she decided she could abide by the rules, she could always return. Perhaps that is true of your family member.

Trust is not to be given freely. It diminishes its value. By forgiving yourself and understanding your family member has chosen his/her path, there is nothing more to do. You gave this person a chance -- nothing changed -- so I think you're right to move on.

Bravo to you as a fellow cancer survivor! Starting the new year with positivity will be good for your mind and health. Hang in there!

Many thanks again for your thoughtful contribution.

Best regards,

Terri

1:59 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Hi and thanks for reading and commenting.

Walking away from toxic people is a matter of self-preservation. I've done so, too, in order to keep my life in balance and free of the craziness that accompanies people who create unnecessary drama.

Some people change over time. I reconnected with someone with whom I'd been estranged for 10 years. He became a different person. It's been nice to become reacquainted and all is well.

Leaving such people in your wake often can take you in a positive direction. I'm glad to hear, for you, that has been the case.

Best wishes for the coming year,

Terri

2:06 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Hi, Dan,

You're so right! And I think some things that can be perceived as slights can be cultural. In other words, someone outside a given cultural circle may have completely different perceptions about what is or isn't offensive.

I love your analogy of the boil and stain. For me, though a transgression may have occurred a number of years ago, it still felt good to put it away once and for all.

We communicate with social media connections without the benefit of expressions and body language, (and also language differences can impart completely different meanings.) I'm still puzzling over someone I was joking with, and he became enraged, feeling I was NOT funny, and was in fact, insulting him! There was no amount of outreach I could extend to clarify what I meant. And believe me when I say, offending people is not something I strive to do!

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Wishing you the best in the coming year!

Terri

2:13 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Semen, thanks, I think.

I'm going to chalk this one up to communication differences!

Cheers/Terri

2:14 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Henri, thanks for reading and commenting.

"Swimming in mud." Wow, what an evocative metaphor!

Having grown up as a middle child, I think I've harbored more resentment than some people! So it's a true exercise of purpose to rid myself of baggage.

I'm wondering if all of us has an element of not dispensing forgiveness freely? Maybe that is a natural reaction to people who have done something that negatively affects us?

I hadn't considered how resentment could be holding people back, as much as derailing energy that could be spent more productively, but I can see what you mean. I agree -- harboring resentment can impede our ability to move forward.

The two things — giving a second chance or giving someone your trust, don't necessarily come automatically with forgiveness. If someone has betrayed our trust, I would think they would need to work hard to to earn it back.

Henri, Best wishes for 2013 and thank you again for contributing to the conversation!

Best regards,

Terri

2:36 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Greg, thank you for the response. Let's hope we can at least be mindful when we choose to harbor resentment, since it IS a sinkhole of emotional energy!

Happy new year,

Terri

2:37 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Hi, Robert,

Thank you for a thought-provoking response.

It's so true — as illustrated by my former colleague's cluelessness, that without providing people with the knowledge of their transgressions, there is no reason anyone would realize they have negatively affected someone.

The two quotes you cited both illuminate this topic. And I hadn't considered the rejection of being forgiven, but I suppose if someone truly felt they were not responsible for a problem, they would naturally reject being forgiven.

For most people, confronting someone — anyone — is an uncomfortable situation. But I wonder why that is? If they are the ones who behaved badly, why do we feel uneasy? Perhaps it boils down to being a sentient person, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, versus a self-absorbed person who doesn't give thought beyond themselves.

Thanks again for reading and commenting, and wishing you all the best in the new year,

Terri

2:48 PM  
Blogger manav said...

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7:43 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Tiago, thanks for reading my blog post and I'm honored it was the first you read in the new year!

It's interesting to learn forgiveness is a high priority with you. Strangely, after I wrote this, I've had a number of conversations with people, most of whom agree it is a worthy expenditure of time!

As I grow older, it becomes more apparent how life can be cut short, so we really owe it to ourselves to try for the best-quality of life we can manage!

Your English, by the way, is EXCELLENT. I cannot even begin to think I could cobble together a blog comment in another language! WOW!

Thanks and wishing you all the best in 2013!

Cheers/Thanks for commenting,

Terri

12:52 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Hi, A, and thanks for reading and commenting.

Someone once said something to the effect of "nothing worth having comes easy." If forgiving someone was an easy thing, I'm sure more people would do it!

If we can model behavior for our kids that include things like compassion, empathy, forgiveness, generosity, courage and humility, their chances of living a happy life would seem to be greatly improved!

Happy 2013,

Terri

12:57 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Hi, David!

Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It's interesting how more and more I find people are so wrapped up in themselves, they are unaware of how their actions affect others.

It's an interesting thing to think about the difference between forgiving another person versus forgiving oneself. In fact, I almost wonder if forgiving yourself would be more difficult? I'm not sure how I would begin to do that! Do you have some ideas?!

Let's hope 2013 is a great year for all of us, and my gratitude for a great contribution to this dialog.

Cheers/Terri

1:01 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Thanks, John. Happy new year :-)

Cheers/Terri

1:03 PM  
Blogger Zoey said...

Dear Terri,

Not only am I impressed by your post, but also by your readers as well! Such articulate and insightful reflections are good for the soul.

In regards to forgiveness, I think it's a worthy goal if a person wants to maintain a connection to the other person. It's definitely easier to forgive smaller trespasses, especially when it was unintentional, out of character, etc. As for repeat offenders, forgiving them would simply validate their ill behavior. One of the problems that I find rampant in our society, is a lack of accountability. If people were held responsible for their actions and the consequences as a result, perhaps they would give more thought as to how they treat others. Also, some people never learned how to be empathetic; they have no idea what it feels like to look at things from another's perspective. It would be a good life lesson to learn from those who have this characteristic.

I'll share something very personal, in the hope that it can help others. I was brought up in an extremely dysfunctional family, one where emotional (and physical when I little) abuse was the norm. In high school, I ran away from home and stayed with a friend's family for weeks. My mother had modeled a terrible habit from her parents: issuing excessive silent treatments. This one had gone on for months, and whenever she and I were in the same room, the hostility from her was palpable. It was a horrible way to live, as anyone can imagine.

Up until I was thirty years of age, I tried to make things work with my family. I urged them to seek therapy, to get professional help for their issues. What I learned, is that you can't force people to change, even when it's the best thing for them. So I made a choice in the name of self-preservation: after moving to San Diego in 2000, I severed all ties. Did I need to forgive them in order to move on? No. In fact, I had forgiven them numerous times throughout our decades together and it had never helped the situation.

Nowadays, I live a very simple, drama-free life. I have a loving man who've I've been with for fourteen years now. How did I get here from where I was? It was largely because of a single book: Richard Carlson's 'Shortcut through Therapy: Ten Principles of Growth-Oriented, Contented Living'. This life-changer taught me that my past can only hurt me if I dwell on it, if I obsess over thoughts about it. When I let go of those thoughts, I let go of those emotions associated with it. It took a great deal of practice and discipline to learn a new way of processing things, but it's the very reason why my life, for the most part, is healthy and happy now.

I wish you a wonderful new year, my friend. Thank you for being who you are and sharing with others.

Love,

Zoey

2:25 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Lenore, hi!

Thank you for reading and for the great comment.

You're correct in saying both sides need to desire re-engagement. But interestingly, I think it's possible to forgive someone who doesn't think they have done anything to forgive and maybe they had zero awareness that any engagement had ended!

I think the forgiveness can be viewed more like a "closure." There isn't an expectation of a warm and happy ending — but rather concluding something that has been left hanging.

The true value is letting go of negative feelings, and I think most of us would benefit from doing that.

Thanks again and happy new year to you!

Terri

2:55 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Thanks, Justin, for reading and commenting!

You're right — life is too short to hold grudges. Yet I'm guilty of having done so!

This is a strange detour, but years ago I was talking to someone at a party, and during the course of talking to me, the person sent a blob of spit onto my face.

She didn't apologize or excuse herself, or maybe didn't even realize it. But for DECADES, my husband and I have referred to her as "PFFFFFT Margie!" I think she'd be embarrassed if she knew, but here was a case where she had done so unintentionally, so the only thing to be done was to roll with it and make it into a joke.

I like your comment, humans inherently are good, and I like believing it's true.

Thanks for weighing in and wishing you all the best in the new year!

Terri

3:02 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Tahoe, thanks for reading and adding to the conversation.

I think most people have a piece of excess baggage they would like to purge. The new year seems like a great time to take stock and hopefully make even an incremental improvement.

Wishing you a great 2013,

Terri

3:05 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Dear Zoey,

Our random meeting was one of the nicest things that happened for me last year. I've really enjoyed our conversations and it's been a wonderful treat to read your well written and informative blog posts. So thank you both for sharing, and for taking the time to read and comment here.

I agree with the sound points you've made - particularly as they relate to accountability. Social media phantoms aside, even real friends or family members who are self-absorbed can create a toxic relationship.

Thank you for sharing your personal story. The fact you are able to write about it tells me you've done a lot of work to get to the point where you can do that.

There are people we may know who, no matter what, are unable to offer nourishment to a relationship. It's futile to continue to pour energy into them, so at this point in your life, I can see you made the right decision concerning your family.

It's hard to say whether some of your family members might have a revelation at some point, and desire to reconnect with you. If they did, I wonder if you would then consider letting them back into your life, and if so, would you need to forgive them first?

Thank you for sharing the name of the book and author. I'm sure it will provide someone with the framework needed to truly move forward.

I'm looking forward to growing our friendship, and wish you and your mate all the best in this new year.

((Hugs)))

Terri

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Terri,

Thanks for the thoughtful post and all the wonderful comments by your readers. Was the topic of this post on your mind a long time before you wrote it? I'm just curious about whether it was part of the stimulus that allowed you to interact with me in such an authentic manner about our social media relationship?

I agree that forgiveness is hugely important. If we carry grudges or wounds for years they become blockages in our own energy. How to forgive, or whether one is able to forgive, is part of a spiritual path that I'm learning to walk.

My childhood was incredibly emotionally abusive - to the extent that my parents repeatedly told me that they wished I were dead. Obviously it's hard to forgive statements like that when they're your earliest memories.

And yet I know that finding a way to forgive and to actually love my parents, is essential. I think that cutting ties with them would simply be burying that hurt again, and continue to foster the negative energy within me.

It will obviously be slow, hard work, yet I've started it. And thank God, when I approached my parents about it, I found that instead of disowning me (as they had often threatened to do to me as a child), they want reconciliation too. This is perhaps prompted by my health situation and their age, but my heart already becomes lighter when I see that they really mean to try to earn my trust and forgiveness.

8:51 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Thanks so much for reading and responding, A.

I'm sorry your parents were unkind to you. Sometimes people say hurtful things because they, themselves, hurt.

Children look to their parents for love, support and nurturing. I hope along the way they gave you some of these things. Perhaps they lacked role models to show them how to be good parents, or they suffered from their own demons, which prevented them from giving you what you needed to thrive. Whatever their reasons were for hurting you, hopefully they've dealt with the causes and really want to make peace with you.

Forgiving them is an act of generosity on your part. If they are meeting you halfway, the ingredients needed for a successful outcome are there. Just recognize the need to forgive AND love them aren't necessarily tied together. As the process unfolds, you will know whether or not you can go there.

To see something positive happening is encouraging news. I wish you a peaceful and satisfying end to this long journey.

Warm regards,

Terri

PS. The blog was inspired by the former colleague example I cited. My interaction with you was because I found myself caring about someone whose identity was unknown, and I've had a firm policy about not investing time/emotional energy in phantoms.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Trisha Ickes said...

Hi Terri,
Congrats on 4+ years of good health! Found your comments on forgiveness interesting and thoughtful. Still, the act of forgiveness was not identified – forgiveness is not an action that one bestows upon another rather it is the enlightenment that one is not sufficiently aware to judge another person, therefore forgiveness is an action that is bestowed upon one’s self. What does this mean? People are people, no one needs to forgive another person for committing a human action regardlesss if the behavior is viewed in a negative or positive light. More concretely, if I’m offended by the behavior of someone whether friend, close associate or even nemesis, if enlightened I first must ask myself why am I offended? This is the moment in which forgiveness takes place.
One other comment, you mentioned one not sharing an actual photo of oneself and suggested that it is dishonest. It could be dishonest; it could also be for a reason as trivial as not having a current photograph. The photo I have was an image taken from the web; I’m in school and now that I’m on winter break I intend to load several photos before the spring semester begins.
Best wishes for continued good health.

3:19 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:02 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Hi, Trisha,

Thanks! It's great to be alive and well!

And thanks for some provocative comments.

Usually I immediately recognize why I feel offended by something, although I'll sometimes ask for clarification to make sure I'm not misunderstanding the intent.

We will have to agree to disagree about the definition of forgiveness. From my standpoint, it's not about forgiving myself so much as acknowledging a person's unacceptable behavior and choosing to pardon it.

Fake photos on Twitter designed to misrepresent are different from a photo someone posts because they don't have a current picture. At some point, if a person a person chooses to hide behind a fake name or picture, I usually drift away from them.

Here's a post written about why transparency matters: http://seattledesigner.blogspot.com/2012/04/why-transparency-mattersbuilding-equity.html

Great comments. Thank you for reading, and I hope you're enjoying your winter break. Wishing you all the best for 2013. Thanks again for adding to the conversation,

Terri

1:03 PM  
Blogger Jiyacreatives said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

NaK,
Ever since you told me this at lunch (a thoroughly joyful event!), I've been thinking about how I can apply it. I got to: "forgiveness of grudge". I hold a grudge that people with kids always have a reason to leave work early or take a call during a meeting that's important to me. I hold a grudge when I have to bail out one of my family members with no promise of repayment. I hold a grudge when people whine about money, and then go on a European vacation.

I think my twist on your resolution is to let go of the grudge. It's like chewed gum on hot pavement - just a menace.
Love
PEEK

8:32 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

My deerest PEEK,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. And it WAS so good to see you! Next time you're going to have to eat more!

I've been thinking about your reply and think it's right down the same alley. But you are probably the most honest, straightest-shooting person I know, so it would seem pretty simple to address at least a couple of points.

When someone says they need to leave early because of a kid issue, you could say, "If you think this is something you're going to need to do often, let's talk about a way to configure your work schedule so it doesn't appear to others that you're taking undo advantage of your job."

When someone walks into your office, tell them they need to turn their cell phone OFF. Piece of cake!

As for loaning money with no hope for repayment, that is not a loan. It is a GIFT. I think you need to realize that when you bail out someone. Maybe you could claim one of them as a dependent? *wink*

Regarding people who whine about money then go on expensive vacations, buy new cars, etc., you can't take them seriously. If they are dumb enough to dig themselves more deeply into their financial holes by making poor choices, you might have to say, "Talking about your finances if off limits from now on." That way at least you won't have to hear about their idiocies!

Letting go of a grudge is a tough thing to do. You can ask David — and he will tell you I'm the master of remembering things that hurt, insulted or somehow offended me. But I'm trying to get better and once you make the choice to let go, it's like giving yourself a gift.

Thank you for being an amazing person, and more importantly, one of my most treasured friends. I appreciate you SO MUCH!

Lots of love,

NAK

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for share.

12:56 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Thanks for your comment!

1:02 AM  
Blogger Songstress said...

I recently was introduced to the Hawaiian concept of Hoʻoponopono and its guided practice of forgiveness. The belief that harboring anger and resentment causes physical illness is common in many cultures. It is borne out by Western medical studies that show the negative effects of anger and stress long term on the body. I agree with many of the comments on here that emphasize that forgiveness is as much, or perhaps even more, about the person who is exercising forgiveness than the one being forgiven. We free ourselves from so much when we forgive others. My own personal experience with this came when I had the chance after 15 years to apologize to my husband's first wife for taking her husband away from her and their three young children. Having become a mother myself in the intervening years, and having had my husband repeat the same pattern of infidelity with yet a third woman opened my eyes. I saw how incredibly painful this must have been to her, and her children, and how I had thoughtlessly contributed to the situation. She was very gracious, and in the intervening years, she and I have become much closer. We continue to share a strong love for her three children, my stepchildren, who are now all grown. Because we all live in the same metro area, she also knows my own children well and has been incredibly welcoming to them. My two daughters, 18 and 20, are close to their older half-siblings, and babysit their niece and nephew often. The remarkable thing for me was that a few years ago, she made an amends to me. She told me she was sorry for having hated me for many years and thought bad thoughts about me. She said I was a great step mother to her children, and that she appreciated knowing they were safe when they were with me, visiting their father. Even now, writing this, tears come to mey eyes for being given this gift of forgiveness by her. She and I have both gone through a lot in raising our children, and we both feel so lucky that neither of us spend negative energy any longer on each other. We can focus our love on our five children and helping them navigate life as emerging adults and parents themselves. And our five children have each other to lean on, unencumbered by any fear of conflict between their two mother figures. Forgiving and asking forgiveness are both difficult, but both have been acts that have healed and enabled me in unexpected ways. I encourage anyone reading this blog entry to try them, as forgiveness is a gift that keeps on giving.

6:44 AM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Dear S,

Thank you for telling me about Ho'oponopono. I've not heard of it, but can see the value of practicing it, and wish more people could embrace it.

Thank you so much for reading the post, but more importantly, for the special contribution you made through your comment.

I was impressed with your eloquence, and found myself feeling every word.

It can take a lot of emotional energy to reach the point where one realizes forgiving is even a desirable action to take. For some, it can take years to recognize the need, and for others, it is easier to live in a state of denial. Though there are two sides to every story, people generally view things through their own lenses and filters. Add psychological issues into the mix, and it can render forgiveness an impossible goal.

The peace that comes with forgiveness has been a gift to you and your husband's former wife. I'm happy you both can move forward, unencumbered by the baggage of negativity.

I love how you ended your comment and agree completely: "…forgiveness is a gift that keeps on giving.

Wishing you well,

Terri

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Diane Brogan said...

Thank you for writing and republishing this wonderful post.

Forgiveness is a most interesting subject to me. As you are a person I highly revere, Terri, I was most interested to read your post. I also read all of the comments with interest.

Forgiveness is easy for me, but I never forget and I never hold a grudge. I believe greatly in "live and let live."

My reason for being so interested in your thoughts on forgiveness was my reaction to unkindness heaped on my friends. There were four of us in the newly formed art group. We are all adult women 50 or 50 plus. We were having a wonderful time discovering the pleasure of creating art together.

I do not know the first incident that caused Yvonne to lash out at Kate, but then there were more until Kate was cast aside and declared unfriend worthy.

Then Yvonne started making unreasonable demands on Cathy to the point that Cathy was half crazy trying to maintain civility.

For some reason, Yvonne ignored me. I wanted to step in, but my husband counseled me I might make the situation even worse.

In the end, I chose to ignore Yvonne. I have never done that before. We were at a party and I totally ignored her. I didn't even say hello. She is such a toxic person, I did not want to get burned. That may be wrong, but it seems necessary for my survival.

Terri, I was so very thankful when I read one of your responses:

"People who are self-focused frequently don't have even a vague idea they've done anything wrong to anyone because they see themselves as "perfect." And people with any flavor of Personality Disorder are completely off the chart in terms of reasoning. There are simply some instances where there is no hope to resolve anything.

When that happens, there is no point in continuing to ruminate about it. I have a saying, "There is no point worrying about things you cannot change." Simply recognizing you can't change a person, and to stop investing energy in unworthy people can be therapeutic. Instead of being a victim, you've made a conscious decision to deal with it and put them into the past."

Thank you for this wonderful post. That you for the great responses and conversations.

I am so thankful you survived cancer and are here to be my on line friend. Hopefully in 2014 we can do more than a random Skype and Steve and I will get to meet you and David "in real life."

Happy New Year.

3:15 PM  
Blogger terrinakamura said...

Dear Diane,

With all the happenings around the holidays, I'm grateful to you for taking the time to read and comment on this post.

It was sad to read about the art group, and how one person insisted on pitting the group against someone else. Most sad, though, is the fact that we aren't talking about kids in high school — we are talking about adults.

Diane, you are a good friend. You and Steve are straight shooters. I'm not at all surprised to hear how you handled the situation.

Your choice to ignore Yvonne was right. Engaging with her would have sent the message that, although you chose not to participate, you condoned her behavior.

It's hard to understand why a "mob" is recruited when one person decides someone else is unsuitable for whatever reason.

Ellie and I have discussed this puzzling phenomenon.

If someone has a problem with another person, why not take a stand and own your actions?

From my standpoint, I think the instigator is seeking validation. Having others agree and join forces gives the impression of "being right." It's also cowardly. Standing among a group diffuses who is at the crux.

In this case, I don't know that forgiving is relevant. You weren't the object of the unkindness.

By choosing to remove toxic people from our lives, we are making a choice to live without the weight they bring.

I, too, hope 2014 gives us the chance to meet each other in real life!

Warm hugs,

Terri

6:09 PM  

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I wrote some essays in 2005 to satisfy a long-time desire to write, but work became too busy and I stopped as the year sped by. That December I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After four years in remission, this blog was resurrected in the summer of 2009 after I was tagged on Facebook's "25 Things."

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  • The Shining
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