We can’t solve problems by using the same kind
of thinking we used when we created them.
– Albert Einstein
Never Forgive Him
She showed up at my front door before work at 7AM this morning with the most troubled, despondent expression on her face (which is not typical of her disposition). “I’m sorry I didn’t call,” she said. “But I haven’t slept all night, and I really need to talk to someone. I just need some advice.”
I invited her in and poured her a cup of coffee. “So, what’s on your mind?” I asked.
“Last night, my husband told me something about his college years that he never told me before,” she said in a shaky voice. “And I completely disagree with his actions. It’s horrible, really… and I just can’t stop thinking about it! I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive him.”
“Well, before you tell me anything else… Why do you think your husband confided in you? I mean… Why do you think he told you?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I guess he finally trusted me enough to tell me.”
“Did he commit a crime?” I asked.
“Was anyone physically hurt by his actions?”
“No, not really.”
“So, how do you feel about him right now? Do you still love him?”
“Of course I do,” she replied.
“And whatever he did back in college, do you think he learned his lesson? Or do you think he would do it again?”
“Oh yeah, I’m fairly certain he learned a big lesson,” she replied.
“Okay, so let me get this straight… Last night your husband finally felt that he trusted you enough to tell you about a dark secret from his college years. And although somewhat unsettling, he didn’t hurt anyone, and you think he learned his lesson – which means he grew emotionally from the experience. And to top it off, you’re still completely in love with him. So what exactly can you never forgive him for?”
She sat in silence for a second, made a crooked half smile, and then shook her head. I mimicked her facial expressions and shook my head back at her.
Then she started laughing. And so did I.
More About Us, Less About Them
Sometimes the problems we have with others – our spouse, parents, siblings, etc. – don’t really have much to do with them at all, because these problems are actually about us.
And that’s okay. It simply means these little predicaments will be easier to solve. We are, after all, in charge of our own decisions. We get to decide whether we want to keep our head cluttered with events from the past, or instead open our minds to the positive realities unfolding in front of us.
All we need is the willingness to look at things a little differently – letting go of ‘what was’ and ‘what should never have been,’ and instead focusing our energy on ‘what is’ and ‘what could be possible.’
Because, as my friend discovered this morning, sometimes the only problem standing in our way is the one we created in our head.
Photo by: Phil H.