I have this memory from when I was seventeen, I was at home in the kitchen making myself a cup of tea, I remember I accidentally knocked my cup over and the tea spilled out everywhere. At that moment, I had little control over what had happened. The tea had spilled and there was no way of undoing it.
I remember, instead of reacting and getting angry or frustrated, I simply cleaned up the mess and made myself another cup of tea. While my mum, who saw the whole thing unfold, was surprised by my response and lack of emotion. "Why aren't you annoyed?" she asked me. "Why aren't you bothered by the mess you just made?"
I replied, “Oh well, I can’t do anything about it”.
For whatever reason I reflect on this incident from time to time. I’m not quite sure I would respond the same way now if I spilled tea everywhere. I realise now that in that moment I accepted it and didn’t attach myself or add any story to it. I had, unbeknownst to me, simply forgiven myself for making an honest mistake.
Now, about ten years on, I realise how challenging it can be to find this level of acceptance and forgiveness in everyday moments. The stresses of life can make it easy for us to become caught up in little things, making us carry the weight of unresolved anger or frustration in small moments. While, in our fast lives, we often find ourselves in a constant state of busyness, which can lead to emotional disconnection even in the absence of stress or struggle. We can rush through our days without taking a moment to pause and reflect, getting caught up in the endless stream of notifications, emails, and social media scrolling. It's not just the external pressures of life that can make it challenging, our internal dialogue can play a significant role in how we approach each moment and therefore respond. We rarely just pause. Where if we pause, breathe and digest we can choose how we respond.
That moment in the kitchen all those years ago always reminds me that forgiveness is not about erasing or pretending mistakes don't happen. Rather, it's about being mindful of what has occurred and accepting it for what it is, being soft and caring with yourself and others, choosing to forgive whatever has happened and move forward without clinging to things outside of our control. To simply let go and forgive.